Smart Building Energy and Space Management

UBC is the first 5G smart campus in Canada enabled by Rogers 5G network and a multi-million dollar partnership to fund academic research in 5G applications and applied sciences. To demonstrate the importance of 5G networks in the creation of smart buildings, this project focuses on an important subset of applications – energy and space management.

Smart buildings can be built by integrating wireless Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and developing solutions for hotels, shopping malls, office buildings, stadiums and large industrial facilities. The UBC campus is home to hundreds of buildings of various activity types, where smart building solutions can be conceived and tested before applying to a wider range of facilities.

To help create the enabling environment for UBC to reach its 2050 Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emission reduction goals from buildings and facilities, this project develops a business intelligence system to monitor building energy use and occupancy. This will require an integrated network of existing sensors and new wireless sensors to monitor building space use, inform data models and energy decisions, and recommend retrofit options for campus buildings. The data collected in this project and the resulting analysis will foster innovation among UBC faculty, operational staff, and entrepreneurs about 5G technology solutions for building and energy use. 

Problem Statements

UBC is pursuing ambitious energy and emission reduction goals with multiple innovations in energy supply systems and conservation projects. An energy management system (EMS) in a building can communicate with the sensors and appliances via a two-way communication infrastructure. However,  UBC’s current EMSs require automation capabilities and insights from reliable occupancy data to move closer to the energy saving and emissions reduction goals.

Energy Use and Emissions

The UBC Climate Action Plan outlines a 100% reduction target for GHG emissions by 2050, with strategic focus on buildings and energy supply.

Smart Appliances Control

Existing control systems of HVAC equipment and other smart appliances heavily rely on manual operations.

Management System

Building management systems should integrate energy monitoring with occupancy information and automated equipment controls.

Large organizations like UBC are often challenged with space usage and allocation in buildings including offices, classrooms, meeting rooms, athletics, and food services. Space management not only impacts experience of the campus inhabitants but also serves as a key factor to inform energy scheduling. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic and in preparation for safe re-occupancy of the UBC campus, it is also critical to monitor space occupancy for specific building areas in the interests of the occupants. UBC is a natural testbed with tens of thousands of people returning, and this project will focus on space monitoring and allocation, as well as occupancy-informed energy savings.

Space Utilization

Large organizations need to efficiently allocate rooms and understand occupant behavioral patterns.

User Experience

Wait time at food outlets or service desks, occupant comfort, travel distance inside or between buildings.

Safe Reoccupancy

Support decision making related to COVID-19 and other safety shutdowns.

Energy Savings

Enhance energy savings through accurate occupancy information.

Research Team

Bhushan Gopaluni

Faculty Lead

Associate Dean, Education and Professional Development

Mike Kennedy

Project Lead

Post Doctoral Fellow, Urban Data Lab

Jiachen Wei

Research Assistant

Data Scientist, Urban Data Lab

Vincent Wong

Faculty Lead

Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Christine Chen


Assistant Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Shahab Bahrami

Research Associate

Post Doctoral Fellow, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Peng Zhuang

Research Associate

Postdoctoral fellow, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.


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