Published: July 22, 2021 By

Wangda Zuo

Wangda Zuo

Researchers at CU Boulder are working with colleagues in Ireland to help policymakers and other stakeholders reduce residential energy consumption and the related greenhouse gas emissions that come from it. The project ultimetly aims to provide leaders with the data-driven tools needed to make decisions about retrofitting residential energy solutions.

The CU Boulder team is led by Associate Professor Wangda Zuo from the Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering.

“Our team will be leading the building energy modeling and machine learning aspect of the project,” Zuo said. “The hope is the information we generate together with the rest of the team will lead to better decisions at the local and national levels as society begins seek and install green solutions for the built environment.”

The work – titled “Intelligent Data Harvesting for Multi-Scale Building Stock Classification and Energy Performance Prediction” – is funded by the National Science Foundation, the Science Foundation Ireland, and the Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland as part of the U.S.-Ireland Research and Development Partnership.

The partnership is a unique initiative involving funding agencies across three jurisdictions: the United States of America, Ireland and Northern Ireland. The overall goal is to increase research and development collaboration amongst researchers and industry across those jurisdictions – generating valuable discoveries and innovations that are transferable to the marketplace or will lead to enhancements in health, disease prevention or health care. Residential buildings account for 14% to 27% of greenhouse gas emissions in the three jurisdictions, making it an important area for collaboration and interdisciplinary research.

Eventually, the team will ask the U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to adopt the research results into their national building energy policy analysis for 139 million homes. The Northern Ireland Housing Executive will also utilize this work to help predict decarbonization pathways for their housing stock of nearly 86,000 homes – about 10% of the housing stock in Northern Ireland. And the work will also assist the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland with its retrofit plan of 500,000 homes in the Republic of Ireland.

The total funding for the project is about €1 million euros, or about $1.18 million dollars, across the three nations and work will begin in September, running for three years. The other project leaders are Professor James O’Donnell of University College Dublin and Professor Neil Hewitt of Ulster University.