PerspectiveENGINEERING

Intelligent Infrastructure for Energy Efficiency

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Science  26 Feb 2010:
Vol. 327, Issue 5969, pp. 1086-1088
DOI: 10.1126/science.1174082

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Summary

Buildings use 40% of the primary energy supplied in the United States, and more than 70% of all generated electricity (1), primarily for heating, cooling, and lighting. About 20% of the energy used by buildings can potentially be saved by correcting faults, including malfunctions and unnecessary operation (2). Initial deployments of advanced control systems currently in development suggest that they can save an additional 10 to 20% (3). The energy efficiency resource recoverable through such improved building controls and fault detection corresponds to the output from hundreds of power plants, equivalent to more than one-third of the coal-fired power production in the United States (1). Realizing these substantial savings will require introducing intelligence into the infrastructure of buildings, to distribute the optimization of their operation and detection of their faults.