Nan Ma, Alex Waegel, Max Hakkarainen, William W. Braham, Lior Glass, Dorit Aviv

Published in Applied Energy

Electric demand flexibility in buildings is highly dependent on occupant behavior. Evaluating and incentivizing these behaviors can provide grid-responsive support and encourage demand response (DR) participation. To achieve these goals, we developed an infrastructure for connecting Internet of Things (IoT) sensors to a distributed ledger (blockchain network) for long-term monitoring of energy and environmental performance. This study presents a novel Blockchain + IoT paradigm for the building science research community, applied in a real-world application. This Blockchain + IoT Network (BIN) uses Raspberry Pi minicomputers as platforms for connecting sensors to a blockchain network, to provide and analyze real-time indoor environmental quality (IEQ), energy, and carbon intensity data. As part of the study, we propose various metrics to evaluate the environmental footprints of building users. Novel algorithms for normalizing energy usage and carbon intensity, with consideration of a variety of related environmental factors, are executed as smart contracts on the blockchain network. All measurements and the smart contract transactions are reported and visualized on live dashboards. The use of smart contract allocates tokens based on the reward algorithms to incentivize individuals’ energy conservation, and similarly to DR pricing, can help influence occupant consumption patterns towards carbon reduction goals. We further test the smart contract’s algorithm in relation to real sensor data we have collected in two case studies: single-unit households and carbon intensity in the energy market. The combination of proposed metrics translates measured sensor data into token awards, demonstrates upper and lower limits dictated by the grid generation mix profile, and indicates that there is the potential for load shifting to minimize carbon emissions without considering the scale of consumption.

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