A major component of the CITRIS energy systems test bed architecture is the UC Merced campus—the entire campus! Our young campus is perhaps the most energy efficient university installation in existence, with our buildings highly instrumented not only for operational controls, but for energy research as living laboratories. As the campus grows, many more new buildings to be built in the next few decades will be influenced by this research and can serve as test beds for new materials, architectural design, sensors, controls, model validation, and optimization studies. We have started the experiment to integrate renewable energy, i.e., solar power systems, with buildings to achieve our ambitious net zero energy objective. The campus is situated in a perfect location where solar, wind, and biomass energies can be utilized in buildings.
CITRIS research is actively supporting the UC Merced campus goals of zero net energy and climate neutrality by 2020. This involves close collaboration between research and facilities implementation. Building energy efficiency is the foundation of the campus energy strategy, and a benchmark-based new building efficiency program is on track to design buildings that consume half the energy of other university buildings in California by 2010. Ongoing research involves development of building performance visualization tools, optimization of central plant systems, and integration of energy efficiency into a zero net energy renewable energy portfolio. CITRIS-sponsored research in solar forecasting and generation (using the campus 1 MW solar array) and plasma gasification, advanced sensor technologies for monitoring building use and corresponding energy consumption, waste to energy innovation, and facility controls are examples of our living laboratory test bed attacking complex societal problems.