Developing a Dynamic Control Algorithm to Improve Ventilation Efficiency in a University Conference Room; Flint and Silicon: Can Smart City Technology Spark Change in Drinking Water Governance

Summerville, Alden, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Heydarian, Arsalan, EN-Eng Sys and Environment, University of Virginia
Foley, Rider, University of Virginia

Considering heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems consume about 30% of United States commercial building energy use and humans spend around 90% of their time indoors, improving HVAC efficiency has potential for significant energy reductions and improved indoor air quality (IAQ). By leveraging a sensor network that tracks IAQ, our team developed a dynamic HVAC control algorithm that models room conditions and occupancy to optimize energy usage and occupant comfort, health, and productivity. The control algorithm resulted in energy savings due to decreased operation averaging $424/month, although these savings came at the cost of lost occupant productivity totaling $522/month. With the advent of smart buildings that primarily aim to decrease energy usage, it is also crucial to value the human health impacts of such systems as building occupants are governed by these automations in a commercial setting.
Similarly, vastly more complex systems are implemented in entire cities, such as smart water technology, which require intensive diligence due to the sensitivity of our infrastructure. Focusing on the human and social aspects of drinking water governance, the accountability framework provides a strong analysis of the actor-forum relationship, and Susan Star's article detailing the “properties of infrastructure” allows for discrete analysis of technology implementation. To apply these frameworks, a case study of the Flint, Michigan water contamination crisis was conducted to explore a devastating instance of drinking water governance, a fracture in the actor-forum relationship, and a prime area for technology integration. From an accountability lens, a network analysis revealed lapses in communication between the Flint residents, officials, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Furthermore, the infrastructure analysis concluded that physical smart water technology is
expensive and invasive, so a low-income, marginalized community like Flint, MI would benefit more from a software-based approach. This drinking water governance software would closely connect the city residents, utility provider, and the EPA to mitigate contamination crises and enhance the accountability of the Flint leadership.
Overall, the control algorithm is a novel approach to optimizing energy usage and IAQ at the room level and has the potential to scale to entire buildings resulting in substantial energy cost savings and increased occupant productivity. Additionally, the Flint case analysis uncovered the application of an accessible, software-based governance tool that could be scaled to at-risk communities unable to incorporate infrastructure-based technology.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Control Algorithm, HVAC, Indoor Air Quality, Energy Efficiency

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering
Technical Advisor: Arsalan Heydarian
STS Advisor: Rider Foley
Technical Team Members: Matthew Caruso, Jason Jabbour, Caleb Neale, Alden Summerville, Avery Walters

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