Highlights from 2020 AEE Conference

by Guy Van Meulebrouck PE

(AEE stands for Association of Energy Engineers)

Drones for Architects:

Patrick Fuscoe presented some amazing things drones can do for architects. Here is a list of accurate services drone companies are offering architects:

  • Thermal images of solar panels to quickly identify cells that aren’t working.
  • Aerial surveys of a site to justify reduced solar areas due to shading on the lot
  • Accurate CAD files generated by the drone and supplemental software that can be compared with structural CAD files and highlight discrepancies (accurate to 1 cm)
  • Accurate (to 1 cm) site recording of location of footings and foundations as well as a comparison of footing locations with structural engineer’s CAD files and Architect’s site plan.
  • Exact CAD drawings of what is installed underground and about to be covered over with fill.
  • Weekly construction progress inside and outside of building.
  • Accurate As-built s of inside and outside of existing buildings.

Smart Grids for Campuses:

Brandon Aparicio and Iatomis Stevinson showcased the UC Riverside Smart Grid. Buildings and EV(electric vehicle) charging stations are linked together in an interactive way such that EV charging stations can flow backwards into the grid so that electric cars can supply electricity into the campus during emergencies. Similarly, photovoltaic arrays can be remotely controlled to use their power for that particular building or share it with other buildings. Software is able to interface billing for electric power coming from any number of different companies or sources. For architects building or remodeling projects at UC R-interfacing this system will be important.

SoCal Edison Rebates:There are currently some attractive rebates available for heat pump water heaters. Heat pump water heaters are a tank type of water heater that uses electricity in a much more efficient way than the electric resistance water heaters that used to be sold a long time ago.

Air Quality in Southern California:

Dr. Epstein (from SCAQMD) mentioned that our air quality is today lower than previous decades (due to conservation efforts of building, power, and transportation industries). The future will see even cleaner air-and that is for sure. Dr. Epstien reported that 8 of the 10 worst cities for air quality in the USA are in California. San Diego is actually currently rated the worst in the USA. Due to the mountains trapping polluted air-San Bernadino and Riverside currently have the worst smog in the LA area. The parts of this smog that spills over into Temecula are still milder that most of LA.

GOOD NEWS: Our gas company presented various new methods of creating energy and reducing greenhouse gases at the same time. One method is to thin forests of it’s dead wood and compost this to create methane gas for energy. There are ways to directly turn smog into energy, one such plant is up and operating already. Other ways are to: incinerate garbage at very high temperatures, to interface concrete plant waste and turn that to energy and utilize energy by-products for concrete production and my favorite-using algae from deep in the sea that lives on carbon dioxide and other gases and use the waste from millions of these little organisms to generate usable natural gas. The gas company will emerge as the undisputed leader in SoCal’s clean air.

this device removes greenhouse gases from our air and then uses those same greenhouses gases to manufacture usable natural gas!! Kudo’s to the natural gas industry.

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