Current projects

I-CARE: Personalized climate and ambient control for zero-energy buildings

Research project

Funding: STW SES  
Duration: 2012-07-01 ~ 2016-07-01
Contacts: Gerard Smit
Staff: Diego Quintero
Collaborations: STW        


Buildings consume up to 40% of primary energy in Europe. This is more than what is used by industry or transport. A significant part of the total energy usage within a building is for heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC) and lighting. Conventional buildings generally provide uniform levels of hygrothermal comfort, air-quality and lighting, though the distribution of people in a building is not uniform. HVAC systems try to maintain these levels above the legal minimum set requirements. Despite this, building occupants often experience health complaints. This indicates that though HVAC systems run at increased capacity thereby consuming much energy, user requirements are not met when and where it matters most. The iCARE platform creates a personalized “micro-environment bubble” around a typical office worker seated at a desk. iCARE’s bubble will also be able to migrate to different locations in order to meet the demands of mobile workers. Numerical studies applying personalized ventilation systems have indicated potential energy savings of up to 60% in certain scenarios.

iCARE also addresses intelligent power management of locally harvested energy with the help of wireless sensor networks (WSNs). Localized energy harvesting eliminates electrical transmission and electricity distribution losses which can result in overall energy losses of up to 7.4%. However, the energy produced by any localized energy harvesting system is prone to large fluctuations due to changing weather conditions. This makes it essential to have a power management system that helps decide when to store energy and when or how to distribute it based on the net available energy within the building. This can only be performed successfully if the system has an accurate view of the interior and exterior environmental conditions of the building. iCARE’s WSN is responsible for providing an accurate view of the environmental conditions at a high spatio-temporal resolution.


Intelligent power management system (IPMS) for islanded zero-energy buildings
Publicly available weather forecast data will be combined with locally available data from iCARE’s WSN to predict the amount of energy that may be generated at a particular time using solar and wind energy. Agendas of office workers in a building can predict energy consumption in advance. This information will be used to decide when to store the harvested energy and how and where to distribute it in order to maximise energy efficiency.