More than $5.7 million of the grant comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as part of a national effort to improve the efficiency and reliability of the nation’s electrical grid.
The UNLV Center for Energy Research team is monitoring the energy performance of up to 185 homes in Villa Trieste, a community under development in northwest Las Vegas that combines various energy-saving features along with advanced metering technologies to provide communication between the homeowner and utility and encourage less energy use.
“Reducing the demand for electricity during peak summer hours has become a significant issue for both homeowners and utilities, particularly in the heat of the Desert Southwest,” said Bob Boehm, distinguished professor of engineering and director of the UNLV Center for Energy Research. “Villa Trieste will demonstrate on a large scale that significant reduction in peak energy demand can be achieved through conscientious building design and practical application of new technology.”
The single-family, two-story houses range from 1,487 to 1,960 square feet and feature a roof-integrated solar power system that blends seamlessly with roofing materials, a dashboard that gives the resident energy consumption/generation information, 15 SEER air conditioner, 92 percent AFUE furnace, tankless water heater, and other energy and water conserving features. The houses are built to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.
Each home’s generated solar power will reduce the electricity drawn from the electrical grid. Centralized battery storage at the substation level will draw energy from the homes during off-peak hours for use during peak periods, when the grid is taxed.
Even after the first homes are sold, research will continue with the goal to reduce peak energy consumption by as much as 65 percent compared to a typical new development. UNLV researchers will monitor home performance against simulation models and modify as necessary to achieve maximum efficiency. Solar photovoltaic system performance will be monitored and adjusted to achieve peak demand offset. Also, homes with varying technologies will be compared for performance characteristics.
More information on the UNLV Center for Energy Research and the Villa Trieste project is available at www.cer.unlv.edu/cer/.