The International Energy Outlook 2013 projects that world energy consumption will grow by 56% between 2010 and 2040. The importance of energy efficiency and smart energy systems to help meet growing energy demand without contributing to greenhouse gas emissions – in the built environment, for transportation, and elsewhere – has never been greater. In addition to work on energy systems and their supporting infrastructure, Penn State has world class research on clean and efficient energy utilization strategies for engines, turbines, fuel cells, refrigeration, and many other devices. Implementation of new solutions has the potential to revolutionize the energy industry, but significant technical, social and systems-level analysis is required for such solutions to fulfill their promises.

IEE will foster and build knowledge in smart energy systems by focusing on topics such as:

  • CO2 capture, sequestration, and utilization.
  • Energy storage.
  • Smart infrastructure development (energy grid, transportation, buildings, etc.)

Example:  Smart Energy Systems in Buildings

Dramatic improvements in energy efficiency are achievable with current technologies, but are thwarted by three levels of failed decision processes: 1) the financing structure for new construction does not appropriately weight building life cycle energy costs; 2) incentives for the team of architects, engineers, and contractors building the building are not aligned to unveil system level energy savings; and 3) the occupants of the building do not understand how the building system operates and lack the ability to maximize comfort at minimum cost. 

Coupling of data, models and decision tools, business and contracting models, and new social practices for building occupants can be used to design a 21st century building knowledge system. Penn State’s DOE Energy Efficient Buildings Hub is exploring many of these themes, in partnership with key stakeholders in the building sector.