At George Brown's Smart Connected Buildings Lab, our partners rapidly develop new ways to keep buildings smart.
In a five-years research program supported by NSERC, GBC researchers with their partner industries will work together on different elements of smart home and smart building technologies including smart ventilation, smart occupancy sensing, smart lighting, and renewable energy systems. The objective is to enable sustainable control of the building’s HVAC, lighting, and IT systems to maximize the energy efficiency and cost and facilitate energy management decision making processes.
Airflow in a building’s heating and cooling system can often be imbalanced, delivering too much air to some rooms and not enough to others. Smart ventilation aims to restrict the airflow in rooms that have too much and redirect it to the rooms that need it more. This will prevent rooms from becoming too hot or cold, and keep fresh air flowing to rooms that would typically have stale air.
Using wireless technology of Particle Photon and a number of sensors (temperature, humidity, pressure, occupancy and air quality), a smart ventilation system will be able to make decisions and act autonomously. By knowing the desired temperature and air quality, a smart vent will open and close accordingly to create a comfortable and energy efficient environment. As part of the Internet of Things, our smart ventilation system will be able to make decisions based on a personal basis by sensing specific people within a room. It will also be able to learn habits and routines from the data, after it has been collected, organised and stored.
Have you ever stopped to think about the air quality and carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the air at your workplace or school? Studies have shown that poor indoor air quality is linked to decreased productivity and often people are not aware of it.
Having the ability to reliably monitor room occupancy will allow integrated building systems to improve the air quality in an indoor space by adjusting the ventilation. Using intelligent occupancy sensing, ventilation and lighting could be optimally controlled to maximize energy efficiency and occupant comfort. Currently there are no truly reliable intelligent occupancy sensing systems on the market. Most use infra-red motion sensors, which are quite unreliable.
In this project, we are working on fusing data from various sensors, including motion and CO2 to build a more ideal and affordable occupancy sensing module. The preliminary objective is to deploy this module in the Intelligent Building Automation Systems (IBAS) Research Lab at George Brown College and validate it by controlling the room’s ventilation and lighting. Our current design uses a Particle Photon as the microcontroller and ThingSpeak as the IoT platform.
Ever wonder how much energy is wasted by your plugged in but off TV or in a typical building? In order to have efficient power management, all the outlets and switches in a building should be constantly monitored and controlled. Data logging for visualization, better control to reduce energy consumption, and increasing comfort are key elements that power management is meant to achieve.
In this specific project, we are working on creating an affordable device, SMART Energy Management, that will monitor, control, and visualize energy consumption within buildings. This device uses various embedded hardware such as Current Transformers and Voltage sensors to obtain accurate readings of Voltage, Current, Power, and Power factor. For data logging and visualization, we are using the IoT platform such as ThingSpeak. All of which is brought together by a wireless microcontroller, Particle Photon, for processing.
The SMART Energy Management will allow users to visualize and evaluate energy flow of the building to determine the use of multiple types of equipment and fixtures. The device can also predict potential energy consumption and alert users of wasteful elements in the building. The goal of SMART Energy Management is to seek potential deployment of this device in future net-zero energy buildings and other smart city applications.
“Battery low – connect your device to a charger.” Today, these words are the bane of many people’s existence. Mobile devices are critical to our everyday lives. With cell phones becoming our primary means of communication, a dead battery during a power outage poses a serious risk.
George Brown College is working with Better Current to help them develop the Jenni, a smart solar powered USB device charger. It is easily portable, but also designed for indoor use. Adding additional solar panels and battery modules will even allow users to power appliances during a blackout. It also allows for smarter electricity management by using the attached solar voltaic panel or the internal battery to charge devices, instead of the main power grid, during on-peak rate times.
The current design uses a Raspberry Pi to log power usage data and control the input switching action. The work being conducted by George Brown College focuses on voltage and current measurement, dc to dc power conversion, component recommendations and prototype assembly.
Learn more about this exciting product here.