George Washington University researchers are analyzing the Foggy Bottom Campus’ energy management system—studying the university’s energy needs to determine how urban centers with diverse energy sources can integrate new technology and tackle modern energy challenges.
Like many cities, GW’s Foggy Bottom campus draws and creates energy from both traditional and renewable sources. The university employs its own combined heat and power plant located in Ross Hall, solar thermal heating, rooftop solar panels, battery and thermal storage, and draws energy from the grid.
Saniya LeBlanc, associate professor in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, is using the campus's energy management system as a “living laboratory” to build a framework that can determine how an urban energy system will hold up to challenges like a major heatwave that taxes the system or a storm that causes a grid outage. Her research team uses modeling to determine the system’s reliability, resiliency and vulnerability. Associate professor Ekundayo Shittu and assistant professor Payman Dehghanian also work on the project.
“We have this really diverse energy system, and what we're doing is we're taking in all of that data and then saying, 'OK, how are we operating now as a campus and what would happen if we changed the way we operated,’” she said. “What would happen if we incorporated new technologies?”
This two-year project is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. It builds on five years of previous work analyzing and modeling the Ross Hall power plant, which provides electricity, heating and cooling for four campus buildings, and building collaborations across GW and Washington, D.C. Dr. LeBlanc’s team also works closely with the GW Division of Safety and Facilities and the GW Office of Sustainability.