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UVa Gets $2 Million Grant to Develop "Smart Building"

September 23, 2010

Researchers at the University of Virginia are getting a $2 million grant to develop "smart building" energy systems for residential and commercial buildings.

The four-year National Science Foundation grant was announced by the Charlottesville school Thursday. Researchers will focus on reducing energy used by heating,
ventilation and air conditioning systems.

According to the United States Energy Information Administration, those systems account for about 28 percent of the nation's electricity use every year.

Officials say the plan is to develop sensors and user interfaces that will allow people to better control the building temperature. Researchers also will design new heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems to improve the speed and efficiency.

The university says an important goal for the project will be to develop systems that are more affordable than other popular energy-saving methods like improved insulation, new windows or solar panels.

Preliminary data from research conducted on eight houses in Charlottesville showed a 28 percent reduction in HVAC energy use with a $25 investment in hardware.

Researchers ultimately hope to reduce HVAC energy use up to 50 percent with a startup cost of less than $500 per home and a return on investment for homeowners within two years.

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