The following information was released by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST):
NIST Unveils Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility to Improve Testing of Energy-Efficient Technologies
In a ribbon-cutting ceremony today, the U.S. Commerce Departments National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) unveiled a new laboratory designed to demonstrate that a typical-looking suburban home for a family of four can generate as much energy as it uses in a year. Following an initial year-long experiment, the facility will be used to improve test methods for energy-efficient technologies and develop cost-effective design standards for energy-efficient homes that could reduce overall energy consumption and harmful pollution, and save families money on their monthly utility bills.
The unique facility looks and behaves like an actual house, and has been built to U.S. Green Building Council LEED Platinum standard the highest standard for sustainable structures. The two-story, four-bedroom, three-bath Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility incorporates energy-efficient construction and appliances, as well as energy-generating technologies such as solar water heating and solar photovoltaic systems.
Results from this lab will show if net-zero home design and technologies are ready for a neighborhood near you, said Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Patrick Gallagher. It will also allow development of new design standards and test methods for emerging energy-efficient technologies and, we hope, speed their adoption.
Funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which included green technologies among its priorities, the facility was built almost entirely with U.S.-made materials and equipment. Through its Building America effort, the Department of Energy (DOE) provided architectural design, training and management support for this project. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency Kathleen Hogan represented DOE during the ribbon-cutting.
For the first year of its operation, the lab will be used to demonstrate net-zero energy usage. NIST researchers will use computer software and mechanical controls to simulate the activities of a family of four living in an energy-efficient home. No actual humans will be allowed to enter the house during this time so that researchers can monitor how the house performs, but lights will turn on and off at specified times, hot water and appliances will run and small devices will emit heat and humidity just as people would.
A solar photovoltaic system will generate electricity to power lights and appliances when weather permits, and excess energy will be sent back to the local utility grid by means of a smart electric meter. The house will draw energy from the grid on days it cannot generate enough on its own, but over the course of a year it will produce enough to make up for that purchased energy, for a net-zero energy usage.
During the ceremony, Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chairman of the U.S. Green Building Council, announced that the Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility has earned a LEED Platinum rating.
NIST researchers plan to make data from the net-zero experiment available online so that researchers and the public can follow its progress. Visit http://www.nist.gov/el/nzertf/ for images, video and more details on the new laboratory.
As a non-regulatory agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, NIST promotes U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life. To learn more about NIST, visit www.nist.gov.
When was the last time you had a fire behavior class?
If you were honest it has probably been several years and most likely half of the class slept or paid very little attention because most firefighters like hands on drills were they can tear up stuff.
Those that have done fire behavior training recently what materials did you use? Because there has been major changes to fire development in the modern fire environment and most text books have not caught up.
Hopefully this post will help bring a lot of new material from UL , NIST and many other places together in a post that firefighters can use to train their next shift.
Fire Dynamics is the study of how chemistry, fire science, material science and the mechanical engineering disciplines of fluid mechanics and heat transfer interact to influence fire behavior. In other words, Fire Dynamics is the study of how fires start, spread and develop. But what exactly is a fire?
Fire can be described in many ways – here are a few:
NFPA 921: “A rapid oxidation process, which is a chemical reaction resulting in the evolution of light and heat in varying intensities.”
Webster’s Dictionary: “A fire is an exothermic chemical reaction that emits heat and light”
Fire can also be explained in terms of the Fire Tetrahedron – a geometric representation of what is required for fire to exist, namely, fuel, an oxidizing agent, heat, and an uninhibited chemical reaction.
Heat Energy is a form of energy characterized by vibration of molecules and capable of initiating and supporting chemical changes and changes of state (NFPA 921). Heat energy is measured in units of Joules (J), however it can also be measured in Calories (1 Calorie = 4.184 J) and BTU’s (1 BTU = 1055 J).
Temperature is a measure of the degree of molecular activity of a material compared to a reference point. Temperature is measured in degrees Fahrenheit (melting point of ice = 32 º F, boiling point of water = 212 º F) or degrees Celsius (melting point of ice = 0 º C, boiling point of water = 100 º C).
Normal human oral/body temperature
Human skin begins to feel pain
Human skin receives a second degree burn injury
Human skin is instantly destroyed
Water boils and produces steam
Glass transition temperature of polycarbonate
Melting temperature of polycarbonate(Mask)
Charring of modern protective clothing fabrics begins
Temperatures inside a post-flashover room fire
Heat transfer is a major factor in the ignition, growth, spread, decay and extinction of a fire. It is important to note that heat is always transferred from the hotter object to the cooler object - heat energy transferred to and object increases the object’s temperature, and heat energy transferred from and object decreases the object’s temperature.
Conduction is heat transfer within solids or between contacting solids.
courtesy of NIST
courtesy of NIST
Convection is heat transfer by the movement of liquids or gasses.
courtesy of NIST (convection on firefighter)
Radiation is heat transfer by electromagnetic waves.
courtesy of NIST (Radiation on the firefighter)
Fire Development is a function of many factors including: fuel properties, fuel quantity, ventilation (natural or mechanical), compartment geometry (volume and ceiling height), location of fire, and ambient conditions (temperature, wind, etc).
Traditional Fire Development The Traditional Fire Development curve shows the time history of a fuel limited fire. In other words, the fire growth is not limited by a lack of oxygen. As more fuel becomes involved in the fire, the energy level continues to increase until all of the fuel available is burning (fully developed). Then as the fuel is burned away, the energy level begins to decay. The key is that oxygen is available to mix with the heated gases (fuel) to enable the completion of the fire triangle and the generation of energy.
Fire Behavior in a StructureThe Fire Behavior in a Structure curve demonstrates the time history of a ventilation limited fire. In this case the fire starts in a structure which has the doors and windows closed. Early in the fire growth stage there is adequate oxygen to mix with the heated gases, which results in flaming combustion. As the oxygen level within the structure is depleted, the fire decays, the heat release from the fire decreases and as a result the temperature decreases. When a vent is opened, such as when the fire department enters a door, oxygen is introduced. The oxygen mixes with the heated gases in the structure and the energy level begins to increase. This change in ventilation can result in a rapid increase in fire growth potentially leading to a flashover (fully developed compartment fire) condition.
Changes in Today’s fires:
Modern Building Construction + More Plastics = Extreme Fire Behavior
Did you notice that fire development has changed? There is early decay now! We as firefighters need to share this with all firefighters especially ones that havn’t been to fire behavior class in some time.
Energy Efficient Modern Building Construction:
Properly installed and inspected insulation in floors, walls, and attics ensures consistent temperatures with less energy use. The result is lower utility costs and a quieter, more comfortable home.
High Performance Windows
Energy-efficient windows use advanced technologies to keep heat in during the winter and out during the summer. They also block damaging ultraviolet sunlight that can discolor carpets and furnishings.
Tight Construction and Ducts Homebuilders Making a Difference:
Advanced techniques for sealing holes and cracks in a home’s “envelope” and in heating and cooling ducts help reduce drafts, moisture, dust, pollen, pests, and noise. A tightly sealed home improves comfort and indoor air quality while lowering utility and maintenance costs.
The tactical considerations include:
Stages of fire development:The stages of fire development change when a fire becomes ventilation limited.
It is common with today’s fire environment to have a decay period prior to flashover which emphasizes the importance of ventilation
Forcing the front door is ventilation: Forcing entry has to be thought of as ventilation as well.
While forcing entry is necessary to fight the fire it must also trigger the thought that air is being fed to the fire and the clock is ticking before either the fire gets extinguished or it grows until an untenable condition exists jeopardizing the safety of everyone in the structure.
No smoke showing:A common event during the experiments was that once the fire became ventilation limited the smoke being forced out of the gaps of the houses greatly diminished or stopped all together.
No some showing during size-up should increase awareness of the potential conditions inside.
Coordination: If you add air to the fire and don’t apply water in the appropriate time frame the fire gets larger and safety decreases.
DON’T FORCE DOOR UNTILL YOU HAVE A CHARGED HOSELINE IN PLACE!
Below you will find some excellant information sent to me by Mike Love.
I have been digging around at the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) looking for
reports and work they have completed that may be of assistance to fire marshals in promoting fire and life safety. One item I discovered I think will be beneficial in some of the conflicts that often arise over cost effectiveness of residential fire sprinklers. It is a Web-tool called Sprinkler Use Decisioning that offers to “facilitate economic analysis of residential fire sprinklers at the homeowner and community level.” I thought this tool sounded useful so I wanted to bring it to your attention with the goal of seeing the tool’s use in real situations. But before I introduce the Web-tool let me provide some background
of the residential sprinkler economic challenge by opponents and the basis for the usefulness of this tool.
Builders like to use the argument that residential sprinklers add significant cost to a new home with little added safety value. Fire and life safety professionals disagree and in fact experience that the cost per square foot is very reasonable. The Fire Protection Research Foundation issued a report (Click Here)Home Fire Sprinkler Cost Assessment, Final Report – September 10, 2008 providing evaluated costs from an analysis of 30 different home plans with residential fire sprinklers. Their findings conclude,
“The cost of sprinkler systems to the homebuilder, in dollars per sprinklered [square foot (SF)] SF, ranged from $0.38 to $3.66. This range represents the 30 different house plans, with the average cost being $1.61 per sprinklered SF.”
Within that range the low cost was in a California community with a sprinkler requirement that has been in place for many years; the higher cost in the range was for a home in the mountains of Colorado using a well and pump, copper piping and a system designed to prevent freezing. The Foundation report and many others have established concretely what the costs are for builders to provide residential sprinklers. But what about the cost compared to the benefit of sprinklers, can this be determined conveniently in promoting residential sprinklers? Researchers at NIST examined benefits and costs across three typical single family housing types: colonial, townhouse and ranch. Installation costs are higher in colonials and lowest in ranch homes. This is not surprising as it reflects size differences and configuration of the floors. The researchers concluded in the 2007 report Benefit-Cost Analysis of Residential Fire Sprinkler Systems, by David T. Butry, M. Hayden Brown and Sieglinde K. Fuller that,
“The benefits experienced by residents of single-family dwellings with sprinkler systems, as measured in this report, include reductions in the following: the risk of civilian fatalities and injuries, homeowner insurance premiums, uninsured direct property losses, and uninsured indirect costs. The primary costs examined are for initial purchase and installation of the sprinkler system. Maintenance and repair costs are not examined because they are negligible.”
These are the kinds of benefits the fire and life safety industry began pursuing in the 1970s when residential sprinkler prototypes and a national standard were being created. The report can be found
at this link (Click Here)NISTIR 7451: Benefit-Cost Analysis of Residential Fire Sprinkler Systems. But that is all just background. What I wanted to let know about is an on-line calculator that you can use to actually come up with a tangible analysis of your benefit compared to your investment. This can be of value when presenting sprinklers as a solution for reduced risk in your community.
Here is what the developer of the Sprinkler Use Decisioning says about the on-line tool.
Sprinkler Use Decisioning is a Web-tool designed to facilitate economic analysis of residential fire sprinklers at the homeowner and community level. It uses the economic framework developed
in NIST Interagency Report 7451 (Benefit-Cost Analysis of Residential Sprinklers), which was used to measure the economic performance of a fire sprinkler system installed in a newly constructed, single-family house. Using the tool, the benefits and costs of sprinkler installation and use can be evaluated to determine whether sprinkler adoption is cost effective for either an individual homeowner or for an entire community.
The tool is comprised of four labeled ‘tabs.’ Two tabs are used to input the baseline and sensitivity analysis values. The other two tabs summarize the baseline and sensitivity analysis
results. A help feature is also provided.
As mentioned above there is a help feature associated with the tool. The document associated with the help feature can be accessed by (clicking here). Navigating to this help document provides significant
insight into the underlying formulas, data and assumptions as well as a simulation of the tool to show how it works.
I hope that people will begin to kick the tires on this useful Web-tool and provide feedback as to how it has worked for them, and or any problems they may have had. I am sure that if it is needed we can put people directly in touch with the authors for interaction and feedback. When you have an opportunity
experience this Web-tool let us know how it worked for you.
Once again a special thanks to Mike Love for all he does for the fire service of america.
The power of the sun will be harnessed later this month to produce solar electricity on a size and scale never before seen in Indiana.
Starting April 29, an array of 6,152 solar panels, installed last winter on the roof of a federal office building, will create more than 2 megawatts of electricity an hour, enough to power about 1,000 homes.
» In 2010, the U.S. solar market grew 67 percent in value, reaching $6 billion, up from $3.6 billion in 2009.
» Solar electric installations last year totaled 956 megawatts to reach a cumulative installed capacity of 2.6 gigawatts.
» 29,500 solar pool heating systems and 35,500 solar water heating systems were installed last year, providing heat to more than 65,000 homes, businesses and pools.
» California is the leading installer of solar water heating systems.
» The U.S. ranks fourth in the world for new solar electric installations.
» More than 60,000 people are employed in the U.S. solar industry.
Sources: U.S. General Services Administration; U.S. Department of Energy; Solar Energy Industries Association
Ground Broken for New Green Technology and Fire Safety Facilities
On March 25, 2011, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) held a groundbreaking ceremony at its Gaithersburg, Md., campus for three new facilities funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility, the expanded National Fire Research Laboratory, and the installation of more than 2,500 new solar energy modules to supply electricity to the NIST campus will all help to advance the state of the art in green and fire-safe building practices.
Training video’s by Capt. Matt Paiss, of the San Jose, Calif., Fire Department, offering further understanding of the how solar electric systems work and tips on how to stay safe. Matt can be reached at email@example.com.