Energy management (Issue 41, 2010)


La Trobe's Energy Management System team: Mr Desai, Mr Sriram Prakasamand and Professor Singh

Award-winning technology developed by La Trobe University has been incorporated in Australia’s first Zero Emissions House.

The demonstration house unveiled this year by the CSIRO and two leading home builders, Henley and Delfin Lend Lease, is fitted with the University’s unique Home Energy Management System which tracks energy and water use and supply. Linked to an on-site weather station it can also factor in local weather conditions.

Using touch-screen displays as well as smart management and control technology, the system makes householders more aware of their consumption patterns. This empowers them to take action to reduce energy use, thereby minimising their household’s carbon footprint. All energy and water use information that is displayed in the house on the touch-screen can also be accessed remotely via the internet or mobile phone.

Developed under the Federal Government’s National Research Flagships program, the AusZEH is designed to consume 70 per cent less energy than conventional houses. It will be occupied by a family for a year and monitored during that time for energy consumption, water use and greenhouse gas emissions.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Tim Brown describes the La Trobe Home Energy Management System as an important new step.

‘It was developed by University researchers and has been trialled in some of our buildings for the past two years. We are delighted it is now taking the next step by helping to make a practical and affordable contribution to tackling climate change – one of the most urgent challenges of our time.’
Professor Jugdutt (Jack) Singh, Director of the La Trobe Centre for Technology Infusion, helped bring the project to fruition.

‘The smart system can analyse trends in energy use over time and make forecasts about costs and emission levels and also advise on ways to reduce them.’

The project won last year’s EDN Innovation Award for ‘Best Application of Embedded Computers’. The award recognises excellence in Australian and New Zealand electronics.

‘The system integrates seamlessly with existing as well as next-generation hardware and control software. It can also be used to develop third party applications, and upgraded later as other technology comes on stream,’ says Aniruddha (Ani) Desai, Chief Researcher on the Home Energy Management System project.

CSIRO’s Australian Zero Emission House is a four-bedroom dwelling at Laurimar, 30 kilometres north of Melbourne, combining energy efficiency and demand reduction measures, on-site renewable energy supply and the La Trobe Home Energy Management System in an effort to achieve a carbon neutral running cost without resorting to carbon offsets. Further demonstration homes, tailored to climatic regions, are planned for other parts of Australia.