Mining for Negawatts 2010 MIT Research and Development Conference November 16-17, 2010
Mining for Negawatts by Sanjay Sarma
The MIT community is conducting a great deal of exciting research related energy consumption in built environments. I will begin with a overview of some of the research projects at MIT, ranging from lighting to building controls. I will then do a deeper dive into research being conducted at the Field Intelligence Lab at MIT on the topic of negawatt mining. The term "negawatt" has come to indicate saved, or negative, watts from measures that reduce energy consumption. However, not all negawatts come at an equal cost. In the particular case of building weatherization, some homes have acute but focused problems which can be remedied with relatively simple fixes, while others have pervasive problems that cost a lot more to remedy for the same savings. Clearly, it makes better economic sense to spend precious dollars on the cheap negawatts. We are developing a number of technologies to mine these negawatts effectively, ranging from wide-area scanning with Long Wave IR to personal energy consumption measurement. I will describe these technologies and paint a vision for where this sort of thinking might go in terms of financial incentives and public policy.