Living Lab

Clean Energy Campus as a Living Lab 

Berkeley's new clean energy system presents a unique opportunity for students, faculty, and other researchers to both contribute and advance their knowledge in renewable energy, project finance, and other fields through engagement in the system design and continued discovery during its operations. The intention of this living lab is to build mutually beneficial project partnerships between the energy operations enterprise and the research and teaching enterprise that advance Berkeley's mission. 

Geothermal as part of Berkeley's clean energy future

Project: The Role of the Underground to Realize a Zero-carbon UC Campus Energy System

Timeline: August 2021 - April 2023

See the research findings.

Goal: Understand the feasibility of combined underground heat/cold storage and heat pump technology as part of the campus energy system strategy & advance understanding of geothermal as a climate and energy solution at the district scale.

Execution: The project involves drilling a 400-foot-deep borehole in the northwest corner of campus and conducting various thermal response tests. The results will be used as inputs to an energy simulator that combines underground thermo-hydro model and district heating/cooling model. The feasibility of 4th and 5th generation district heating/cooling systems with underground heat/cold storage to reduce heating/cooling costs and to reach the campus zero carbon target will be assessed. 

Student and Campus Learning: Funded by The Green Initiative Fund, the project will be used in an undergraduate class offered in Fall 2021. The project will also inform broader geothermal research being conducted by Berkeley and LBNL faculty and researchers and will test the value of underground heat/cold storage for the campus energy system. Cameras will be set up to publicly display the drilling and testing operations, and offer opportunities for an on-line Q&A with the research team. Distributed fiber optic temperature and acoustic sensors will be installed to monitor the seasonal changes of ground temperature and to conduct seismic surveys for campus underground geology map development. The project includes paid student fellowships to support the initiative.

Partnership: Led by Kenichi Soga, Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in partnership with Facilities Services, the Office of Sustainability and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Providing electric load flexibility & reliability at Berkeley

Project Concept: CalConnect - Using advanced controls of buildings, solar panel arrays and an EV charging station to provide electric load flexibility and reliability. This project will help the campus improve building control options, a key optimization element of the new clean energy system.

Goal: Develop coordinated control of at least four UC Berkeley buildings (~2000 kW), solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays (~315 kW), and an integrated Electric Vehicle (EV) charging station (~50 kW) to provide critical load flexibility and reliability and make the university network more resilient while providing significant cost savings. This will include implementation of novel Distributed Energy Resource Management Systems (DERMS) controls to test and evaluate Energy Efficiency, Demand Response, and grid flexible strategies combined with groundbreaking Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS) to optimize the use, operation and maintenance of these assets while maintaining optimal comfort.

Learning Opportunities: To be led by California Institute for Energy and Environment/CITRIS in partnership with campus Facilities Services and the Office of Sustainability, the outcome would be release developed software with an open-source license along with market transfer activities including an economic analysis, case study, and training materials for facilities managers.

Thermal energy potential for Northwest Campus

Biosciences Node - Thermal energy and potential for direct (w/o TES) heat recovery

CalConnect schematic

CalConnect schematic