News

Joshua New: Modeling Better Buildings for Energy Savings

Joshua New has an ambitious goal to increase the nation’s efficient use of energy: he wants to create a model of every building in America. All 130 million of them. For now, New and his colleagues in the Building Envelope and Urban Systems group at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) are creating virtual models of the buildings in a 535-square-mile service territory for the Electric Power Board of Chattanooga, Tennessee—roughly 170,000 in all. The modeling team has also simulated buildings on the ORNL campus and at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK). The AutoBEM (Automatic Building Energy Model) program they created for the work taps satellite imagery, street views, and other publicly available data and will give insight into a building’s size and energy makeup, everything from the number of windows to heating, ventilation, and cooling systems. Using the high-performance computing assets at ORNL, the program gathers those inputs, creates a building energy model, and decides which technologies might best be employed to save energy, whether it’s a smart thermostat, advanced water heater, or other improvements.

UDI’s Precision De-icing Project Wins LDRD Poster Session Award

Innovative technology from the Urban Dynamics Institute (UDI) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is gaining attention for its potential to help cities intelligently manage winter road treatments during seasonal snow and ice. A research team led by the UDI’s Olufemi “Femi” Omitaomu was recognized recently for its work on a new resource to provide an “Intelligent Spatial Modeling Approach for De-icing Urban Roads.” The precision de-icing tool is a combined software and hardware package that optimizes seasonal road salting, enabling cities to allocate resources effectively and increase safety on critical roads. The project is supported by the Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) program at ORNL, a US Department of Energy funding initiative for cutting-edge, priority research that stimulates scientific innovation and discovery. An annual ORNL-wide poster session showcases funded proposals and gives researchers an opportunity to share their projects with the ORNL community.

Esther Parish Receives 2017 UT-Battelle Science Communicator Award

Esther Parish received the Science Communicator Award for Community Engagement at the 2017 UT-Battelle Awards Night, held on October 28. As this year’s winner, Parish was recognized by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and UT-Battelle “for leading communication about renewable energy with creativity and enthusiasm.” Since joining ORNL in 2009, Parish has devoted considerable time to communicating the real-world impacts of applied science and technology. She has engaged schools and communities to promote the value and opportunities for education and future careers in science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM, fields.

ORNL, City of Oak Ridge partner on sensor project to capture trends in cities

Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory are partnering with the city of Oak Ridge to develop UrbanSense, a comprehensive sensor network and real-time visualization platform that helps cities evaluate trends in urban activity. The project, initiated by ORNL’s Urban Dynamics Institute, centers on addressing cities’ real-world challenges through applied urban science. “Preparing for urban growth and planning for future infrastructure development and resource demands are global problems, but cities need ways to be proactive on a local level,” said UDI director Budhendra Bhaduri. “Our goal in bringing science to cities is to put the right tools and resources in the hands of city managers and urban planners so that they can assess local impacts and make strategic decisions to get the best return on future investments.”

UDI’s Femi Omitaomu Recognized for Mentorship at 2017 UT-Battelle Awards Night

Olufemi “Femi” Omitaomu was honored as an individual award winner at the October 28 UT-Battelle Awards Night as an outstanding “Mentor of Student Researchers.” One winner is selected annually for the award, which recognizes “exceptional mentoring of student researchers through skills training, critical thinking, professional development, and continuous inspiration and encouragement that has led students to pursue advanced degrees or to join research institutions as scientists and engineers.”