Enabling VOLTTRON: Energy Management of Commercial Buildings at the University of Maryland
Ebhojiaye, Itohan Omisi
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Buildings waste approximately 30% of energy they consume due to inefficient HVAC and lighting operation. Building Automation Systems (BAS) can aid in reducing such wasted energy, but 90% of U.S. commercial buildings lack a BAS due to their high capital costs. This thesis demonstrates how VOLTTRON, an open source operating system developed by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, was used to disable the mechanical cooling of a rooftop unit (RTU) during unoccupied hours, on a building without a BAS. With cooling off, the RTU’s electricity dropped from ~18 kW to ~7kW. These results indicate $450 to $550 can be saved on the monthly electric bill of the building during the summer, compared to when the RTU operated in cooling mode continuously. The installation cost of the equipment that enabled the RTU to be controlled via VOLTTRON was $6,400, thus the project has a payback period of 13 months.