Creatively Cutting Energy Use in Buildings

March 16, 2016 By Carl Weinschenk

office building Energy ManageThe Atlantic posted a piece in its current issue that focuses on innovative ways of reducing energy use in buildings.

The idea is that heating an entire office wastes a lot of energy – nobody, for instance, is working on the ceiling. Why keep it warm? The story looks at various approaches being researched in challenge from the Department of Energy. They include heated undergarments, fan-equipped chairs and robots that follow folks around blowing cool or warm air on them.

It sounds odd, as the story points out. But various prototypes are being built. There is a big potential payoff: Reducing winter heating and summer cooling by 4 degrees would cut greenhouse-gas emissions by as much as 2 percent nationwide.

The story looks at the approach – RoCo (or Roving Comforter) from the University of Maryland – that features a robot blowing hot or cold air on the person. The story says it can keep people comfortable when the room is 4 degrees above or below its normal temperature. This can save as much as 12 percent to 30 percent in energy savings, the story says.

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