By Sam Geldin- Energy
This week marks the beginning of our team’s energy audit, which (despite many challenges) will soon be underway after more than a month of preparation.
At the request of our stakeholder who works for UCLA Energy Services, our team carried out an energy audit to determine whether the lights in certain campus buildings in fact stayed on overnight on a routine basis. Each member surveyed a handful of campus buildings after hours, and in the end, the team chose the Physics and Astronomy Building in the center of campus as our site of study for several reasons. Students heavily frequent this location for core science and astronomy classes, none of the rooms feature automatic sensors (explaining why most rooms had lights on after 9PM when we visited), and the relatively small number of rooms allows our limited data collection to potentially impact operations of the entire building. With three UCLA Facilities occupancy sensors and five loaned Southern California Edison light sensors, we would be able to collect baseline data (light and occupancy status over time) to see what kind of intervention would most improve current conditions.
Our first major challenge entailed gaining project approval from the building manager and coordinating a reasonable installation time with a licensed electrician. Since we realized we had to install the sensors before the start of classes to avoid causing a disruption, we completed the installation over two days. However, only after installing all of the devices did we discover that our newer computer operating systems couldn’t run the old software necessary to activate the sensors and monitor our data. An additional challenge involved contacting Southern California Edison and inquiring whether we could get a replacement plugin accessory (accidentally not provided), in order to connect the sensors to a computer display. While we still have to troubleshoot the software, obtain the missing sensor components, and delay the baseline data collection period for one week, we know a few setbacks won’t stop us and we look forward to the coming week of data collection!