Getting Ahead of the Weather at American University

Debuting for the first time in the United States, this cutting-edge green technology uses weather forecast and building usage data to optimize the operation of American University's McKinley building.

As buildings become more energy efficient and building codes evolve toward higher energy performance standards, the DCSEU seeks out new ideas, technologies, and partners. In March 2017, the DCSEU completed a pilot project with American University (AU) and MeteoViva, a German company, on AU’s campus. “The DCSEU has been a valuable resource and support system for helping the university achieve its energy reduction and efficiency goals,“ said Juan Allen, Energy Conservation and Energy Efficiency Manager at AU.

The McKinley building, which was LEED Gold certified when the project started, saw an estimated drop of 42 percent in CO2 emissions, and a drop of 36 percent in energy costs, resulting in a payback time of less than a year. Named in honor of the assassinated President William McKinley and only the second building constructed on campus, AU built the structure in 1907. In 2014, the historic building underwent a large renovation, and today houses AU’s School of Communication.

AU contacted DCSEU engineers midway through the project. The DCSEU confirmed the AU team’s evaluation and calculations. “AU was a great partner, they were open to our new technology and willing to take some risk,” said Jean-Marie Bergeal, CEO of MeteoViva Inc. and continues: “It was great to work with the DCSEU. Not only are the DCSEU’s employees very detail oriented and thoughtful, but the overall program holds great opportunities for the District of Columbia in general.”

MeteoViva uses a model-based approach incorporating weather forecast data and building usage data to optimize the operation of a building’s heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) equipment. This enables buildings to anticipate weather changes and to adjust their operations in a more efficient manner, reducing both energy usage and hence costs, as well as CO2 emissions. The technology has already been applied to large buildings in Germany, including Frankfurt International Airport, the European Central Bank, and BMW’s headquarters in Munich.

In the United States, buildings are responsible for approximately 40 percent of emitted CO2. This offers a large opportunity for emissions reductions technologies. MeteoViva’s technology is especially effective for buildings located in regions with changing weather such as DC or with variable occupancy such as bigger office buildings, hospitals, and other large institutions.

MeteoViva will make a presentation about their innovative technology at the DCSEU 'Focus on Green Technology: Building Sustainable Cities of the Future' event on January 24. Livestream the event starting at 9am, courtesy of Nexus Media Live. 

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university, cooling, heating, success story

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