Using Big Data to Holistically Assess Benefits from Building Energy System Transition Pathways in Disadvantaged Communities

Holistic energy planning for urban areas

The Regents of the University of California, Los Angeles

Recipient

Los Angeles, CA

Recipient Location

26th

Senate District

54th

Assembly District

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$550,163

Amount Spent

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Active

Project Status

Project Update

The research team monitored 64 homes in the El Monte, Avocado Heights, and Basset neighborhoods in southern California for two weeks in the Summer of 2019 (July) and two weeks in the Winter of 2019 (February). The team used Purple Air Monitors to determine indoor particulate matter levels and Ogawa NO2 monitors to determine indoor Nitrogen Dioxide levels. The research team attended 36 community meetings and sent surveys to homes asking about appliance types, appliance usage, and general occupant behavior. The team received 449 home surveys back. The research team additionally received access to hourly-usage data from SoCal Gas, which was used to finalize the community energy modeling and related analysis of hourly load profiles, included in a Building Models report. These findings and analyses have allowed the research team to run building energy models and develop load profiles for various scenarios related to the different energy transition pathways.

The Issue

There is a need to better understand effective approaches for conducting holistic energy planning for urban areas in California, especially in California's Disadvantaged Communities (DACs). This study is designed to develop a cost-effective approach that could be replicated in other urban areas. The results of this study will help to create an energy transition pathway for California to achieve its goal of reaching 100% renewable and carbon-free energy by 2045. Additionally, the results of this study will help to quantify the health benefits of transitioning homes in disadvantaged communities away from natural gas combustion appliances.

Project Innovation

This research project supports holistic urban energy planning for the Avocado Heights community that simultaneously considers urban renewables, indoor and outdoor air quality, deep energy efficiency options, retrofitting of homes and buildings, electrification, and issues of environmental justice. The project aims to evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of advances in four energy transition pathways, including electric vehicles, energy efficiency, residential appliance electrification, and distributed solar generation. The project will analyze Southern California Gas utility usage data, in conjunction with indoor and ambient air quality monitoring data and surveys from volunteer households, to identify economically attractive options for greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions in the unincorporated areas of Bassett and Avocado Heights, CA.

Project Goals

Identify economically attractive options for greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions in unincorporated LA County.
Evaluate the trade-offs between indoor and ambient air quality changes as a result of various energy transitions.
Help to create an energy transition pathway for California to achieve its goal of reaching 100% carbon-free by 2045.

Project Benefits

Energy planning is often conducted in a piecemeal fashion, focusing on opportunities relevant to individual market sectors or fuels. This project is taking a different approach, using a holistic approach for urban energy planning with the final goal of identifying economically attractive options for deep GHG reductions and improved environmental conditions in Bassett and Avocado Heights. The project will additionally analyze four energy transition pathways and determine which are the most economically and environmentally feasible options for California's Disadvantaged Communities.

Lower Costs

Affordability

This project will result in the ratepayer benefit of lower costs through the development of urban energy scenarios, which will examine pathways to economically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve overall environmental conditions. The analysis of hourly natural gas use has revealed important insights into the potential cost impacts of appliance electrification. The project's findings will inform recommendations for integrated strategic planning approaches that the state can take to reduce cost impacts, particularly for low income households.

Environmental & Public Health

Environmental Sustainability

The project will estimate effective ways of improving outdoor air quality and reducing GHG emissions in the studied urban area. Analysis of indoor air quality monitoring results will allow for the development of recommendations to community members for improving indoor air quality. The project will also evaluate the trade-offs between indoor and ambient air quality changes as a result of various energy transitions; insights and recommendations will support state policy to improve environmental outcomes.

Key Project Members

Project Member

Felicia Federico

Subrecipients

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The Energy Coalition

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Day One

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