A $2.5 million grant will make engineering building energy efficient

Published March 22, 2017

Imagine a house that can tell when you are not there. A building so smart that without you even flipping a switch, it can turn off lights, air conditioning and the iron you accidentally left on that morning.

The College of Engineering is moving forward with its plans to turn the Engineering and Computer Sciences building into a “smart” structure with the help of a $2.5 million grant from the California Energy Commission. Cal State Long Beach beat out 13 other vendors statewide for the grant, according to electrical engineering professor Masoud Nazari.

The new technology will go beyond making the 28-year-old building energy efficient. The smart system will use sensors and motion detection to determine whether anyone is in a room and then turn off lights and heating/air. It also will be able to determine which plugged in devices are being used.

“We are making them smart in the way we control them,” Nazari said. “The control is what we are designing, an intelligence system for the building, so eventually it will be automated.

“It will be able to turn off lights, turn off the HVAC and turn off any plug load which is not essential, for sake of energy saving.”

With the help of John Minnicucci, a Southern California Edison official and CSULB alumnus, Nazari and Paul Wingco from Facilities Management, submitted the proposal, which was approved late last year.

The project will begin later this month and is expected to be implemented by September 2019, and evaluated a year later. Nazari expects the report will show a 20 percent drop in energy consumption, which translates into energy costs.

“There is nothing wrong with this building,” Nazari said. “It was built in the 1980s and while it still is efficient, it’s not as efficient as it can be. Technology has changed and our solution is to make this building more efficient.

“It can apply to classrooms, office rooms and labs. We want to turn this building into a ‘smart’ infrastructure and eventually it could become a smart role model for entire campus and beyond.”

The grant will be used to design the “smart” building and implement new technology, or as Nazari said, “Do what we can without tearing down the building.”

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