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MIT Portugal Ph.D. candidate is awarded a Fulbright to study energy efficiency

With grant, Henrique Pombeiro will study how to improve energy efficiency in buildings

MIT Portugal Program

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IMAGE: Henrique Pombeiro will study how to improve energy efficiency in buildings. view more

Credit: MIT Portugal

Buildings are the largest energy consumers worldwide, so this sector offers the most promising energy investment/savings potential. In practice, however, this potential is scattered across many types of buildings, and in order to reduce buildings' energy impacts, it is necessary to develop strategies to help owners and tenants use technology more efficiently (user behavior). Different strategies apply, depending on the type of usage within the building: residential or commercial (each contributing about 15% of the final energy consumption in the EU); the drivers for energy efficiency are different in the different contexts. This is the scope for Henrique Pombeiro's PhD thesis. This PhD candidate at the MIT Portugal Sustainable Energy Systems has been awarded a Fulbright Research Grant that will allow him to continue at MIT to pursue his research on how to improve energy efficiency in buildings.

The main objective of Henrique's research, in association with KIC InnoEnergy, is to develop strategies that help users reduce energy consumption without losing comfort. The two contexts Henrique is examining are residential structures and a university building. Henrique has been developing energy models to describe how energy is consumed, using neuro-fuzzy models and optimization algorithms that can manage fans and illumination in different spaces. Two case studies form the basis for Henrique's PhD research, one including up to 1000 households, and the other focusing on an educational building (Instituto Superior Técnico, IST, TagusPark). Each is supported by a project: 'A Sua Casa, a Sua Energia' and 'Smart Campus.'

At MIT, Henrique will be engaged in a new project, SusCity, which aims at developing energy efficiency strategies in neighborhoods, and takes into account material inputs and outputs (urban metabolism). Under the supervision of MIT professor Leon Glicksman, Henrique will help develop a framework for evaluating the effectiveness of different feedback mechanisms in encouraging users to adopt more efficient behaviors in which socioeconomic factors play a major role. SusCity - urban data-driven models for creative and resourceful urban transition - is one of the MIT Portugal collaborative testbed projects between Portugal and MIT. It is supported by the Portuguese Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT). The SusCity project is focused on developing and integrating new tools and services that increase urban resource efficiency, minimize environmental impact, preserve system reliability, and contribute to economic development. This project involves MIT, four Portuguese Universities, one associated laboratory and one national laboratory, and a wide variety of private and public institutions, including EDP Distribuição, Lisbon Municipality (CML), IBM, Portuguese Energy Agency (ADENE), ITDS, National Energy Grid (REN/R&D Nester), Novabase and PowerGrid.

Henrique participates in other energy conservation activities, as well. As co-president of the MIT Portugal Energy Club, which was inspired by the MIT Energy Club, Henrique will be involved in activities while at MIT looking for synergies between the clubs. In addition, Henrique is contributing to the development of Watt-IS, a spinoff from the MIT Portugal Program that promotes energy efficiency to consumers. Henrique has developed data analysis and processing algorithms and helped in the management of the company.

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