We are very excited to share PEWS faculty affiliate Dr. Amanda Webb, Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering and Construction Management, has been awarded $2.9 million from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The competitive award is funded through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Dr. Webb’s award is one of 27 projects selected to ensure buildings meet the latest standards for energy efficiency.
The Current Approach to Energy Standards
Today, Building Performance Energy Standards (BPS) are a companion to new construction codes. New construction codes address new buildings whereas BPS address existing buildings. These standards typically target the largest buildings in the area. Some of Dr. Webb’s current work about BPS is illustrated in the figure below.
Her work studying buildings and energy usage has found that the majority of buildings in large cities need modifications to meet these energy standards. In the current approach to BPS (Panel A), in which all buildings must reduce their energy use intensity (i.e., energy use per square foot) to meet a target, shown in the red line. This results in a large number of buildings needing to be retrofit. However, not all buildings contribute equally to the overall savings that would be achieved from meeting a BPS (Panel B). In the example shown here, 50% of the overall savings from the BPS would be achieved by retrofitting just 36 buildings.
The New Approach to Energy Standards
Dr. Webb plans to use the DOE support to development and implement a new cost optimal methodology to support the design and implementation of equitable BPS in Ohio’s large cities. Dr. Webb noted that the way BPS is currently implemented may not work for Ohio, so a new approach is needed.
The three year project will have two threads. First, research and development of a new version of BPS. Second, implementation of these new standards in the 4 largest cities in Ohio (Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus and Cleveland). Webb is partnering with the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, Power A Clean Future Ohio, and Go Sustainable Energy for the project.
To learn more about Dr. Webb’s research on equitable BPS click here.
Amanda L. Webb, Colby McConnell, “Evaluating the feasibility of achieving building performance standards targets”, Energy and Buildings, Volume 288, 2023, 112989, ISSN 0378-7788,