Opportunities in Decarbonizing Buildings through Controls and Electrification

Karma Sawyer, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Tuesday, March 8, 2022
A SyracuseCoE Research & Technology Forum

Today’s buildings use 74% of our nation’s electricity and account for 35% of our carbon emissions. The associated costs to occupants and the country are enormous. In the future buildings will be affordable, carbon-free, comfortable, and healthy. This exciting vision for the building sector relies on marketing products for increased electrification of building loads and for state-of-the-art building controls.

Dr. Karma Sawyer, Director of the Electricity Infrastructure & Buildings Division at PNNL, discussed innovative approaches to controlling and optimizing smart, electric devices in buildings in coordination with the grid and distributed energy resources. These will facilitate the decarbonization of the power grid while ensuring resilience and reliability.

Dr. Sawyer also discussed opportunities related to technology transfer and user facilities at U.S. Department of Energy National Labs, including Pacific Northwest National Lab and others.

Karma Sawyer, Director of the Electricity Infrastructure and Buildings (EI&B) Division, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Dr. Sawyer is responsible for shaping and managing a vision and strategy to assure that PNNL addresses DOE’s most important energy efficiency, clean energy and electricity infrastructure challenges.

Prior to joining PNNL, Karma served as the Program Manager for Emerging Technologies at DOE’s Building Technologies Office. In this role, she developed and executed multi-year R&D strategies across a range of building technologies. She also worked collaboratively with the national labs and external stakeholders to advance cross-cutting initiative, such as the Grid-interactive Efficient Buildings, Advanced Building Construction and Grid Modernization Initiatives. From 2010-2013, Karma served as an Assistant Program Director and Fellow at ARPA-E, focusing on carbon capture and thermal storage technologies.

Dr. Sawyer earned a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley in 2008. She also holds a B.S. in Chemistry from Syracuse University.


Eric A. Schiff, Executive Director, SyracuseCoE

This presentation was part of the EPIC Buildings Program, created to accelerate innovations for energy hardware in NYS that enhance Grid-Interactive and Energy & Efficient Buildings (GEBs). Supported by the U.S. Department of Energy and organized in collaboration with CenterState CEO’s Clean Tech Center.

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