The promise of green buildings married to super efficient smart building tech is huge, considering the fact that buildings currently account for around 40 percent of the U.S.’s total current carbon footprint. The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California, now offers developers of such technology a facility where systems can be tested in a setting that simulates real world situations, offering insights into their integrated functionality.
According to Berkeley Lab, this new User Test Bed facility is kind of like a giant, life-size erector set that will allow researchers and manufacturers to test buildings systems and components under “real-world” conditions by swapping out systems and changing configurations, then following up with rigorous monitoring of the performance of every key building variable impacting total energy consumption.
This means, essentially, that researchers will be able to change out the facility’s walls, windows, lighting, HVAC system, and external or internal shading, as well as the configuration of the internal office systems. Ceiling and floor height can also be adjusted as desired. Steve Selkowitz, head of the Building Technologies Department and lead scientist on the project, said, in a statement, “There’s really nothing like it in the world, operating at this scale.”
The User Test Bed facility is being designed and built with $15.9 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Construction is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2012 and finish in the spring of 2013, at which time the facility will become available to qualified academic and industry researchers.