Bing Dong, Ph.D., Associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, College of Engineering and Computer Science, Syracuse University.

“The facility is a fabulous test bed, unique in the United States, that provides me unprecedented capability to conduct the work I want to do.”

Project: Integrating battery systems into buildings to improve energy efficiency and reduce demand on the electric grid.

Backstory: Dong joined Syracuse University from the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) in August. An expert in intelligent building operation, he was recruited as a signature hire to bolster SU’s priority research cluster in energy and environment, bringing nearly $1 million in research funding with him. Dong says he was specifically attracted to SU by the opportunity to work at SyracuseCoE. “The facility is a fabulous test bed, unique in the United States, that provides me unprecedented capability to conduct the work I want to do,” he says.

Nuts and Bolts: Dong is developing and integrating a battery storage system lab at SyracuseCoE to explore ways to manage peak energy offset and smart grid to server interaction in commercial properties. The system will store energy at times when energy demand is low (such as the middle of the night), then at high demand times can provide 20 to 30 percent of building energy needs, offsetting energy costs and demand on the grid. Dong hopes to have the system operational by spring 2020 and then will begin collecting data and fine-tuning control systems to work optimally with building systems and National Grid signals. “The battery can last for 20 to 30 years,” he says. “Over time, this kind of system can save a lot of money for building owners.”

That’s Not All: Dong holds a prestigious five-year National Science Foundation Career Award that supports research on optimizing building-to-grid integration to server for better smart and connected communities. The goal is to better understand human use and energy demand in individual buildings in an attempt to stabilize the grid as a whole, creating smart cities. He also holds a U.S. Department of Energy ARPA-E grant to test and validate protocols to quantify HVAC energy savings from occupancy sensing in buildings. One year into his three-year ARPA-E project, Dong plans to use SyracuseCoE as a test bed to collect data—installing occupancy sensors that will automatically adjust HVAC set points based on the occupancy of a particular space to save energy.

Real-World Application: Dong is looking for entrepreneurial opportunities with plans to form a startup company that uses artificial intelligence to control buildings connected to renewable energy.

SyracuseCoE Impact: In addition to projects designed to use SyracuseCoE headquarters as a test bed, Dong works from an office on the fourth floor. “There is no better place for me on campus than at SyracuseCoE,” he says. 

Led by Syracuse University, SyracuseCoE engages students, faculty, and collaborators at 200+ firms and institutions to catalyze innovations that improve energy efficiency, environmental quality, and resilience in healthy buildings and cleaner, greener communities.