Sanjay Sarma, MIT Mechanical Engineering Department
Talk Title: Infrared Street Scanning

Abstract: US buildings built after 2000 consume 40% less energy than those built before 1950. Given that between 25 and 40% of the energy consumed by US buildings goes toward heating and cooling, and most US buildings were built before 2000, energy-oriented retrofitting is a key initiative that has drawn billions of dollars in terms of investments and incentives from the the federal government and state governments. The problem is that much of the retrofitting, also called weatherizing, is being done with a broad brush. Identifying the problems -- leaks, construction deficiencies, damage -- is painfully time consuming and expensive. I will present our work in viewing buildings from the street using long-wave infrared (LWIR), which can be used to estimate the temperature of a surface. On a cold day, a building with good insulation should have a cold surface; if the surface is warm, low thermal resistance is the likely cause. This can be used to pinpoint the places where retrofits should be applied, ensuring a better return on the investments that home-owners and governments make. We have built a system similar to Google Streetview, but using LWIR, which can, in principle, be used to assess building stock on a national scale and help prioritize repairs.

Bio: Sanjay Sarma is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT. He co-founded the Auto-ID Center at MIT and developed many of the key technologies behind the EPC suite of RFID standards now used worldwide. He was also the the founder and CTO of OATSystems, which was acquired by Checkpoint Systems (NYSE: CKP) in 2008. He several on the boards of GS1, EPCglobal and several startup companies. Dr. Sarma received his Bachelors from the Indian Institute of Technology, his Masters from Carnegie Mellon University and his PhD from the University of California at Berkeley. Sarma also worked at Schlumberger Oilfield Services in Aberdeen, UK, and at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories in Berkeley, California. His current research interests are street scanning, sensing, RFID, logistics and manufacturing.

Michael Caramanis, Boston University, Mechanical Engineering Department
Talk Title: Market Based Demand Response in Smart Grid Supported Power Markets

Abstract: Whole sale Power markets established in the US in the mid 1990s have rallied large generation and consumption participants to significant efficiency gains in the High Voltage Transmission (HVT) part of Power Systems where more than 50% of the costs are incurred. The advent of the Smart Grid provides opportunities for additional gains at the medium and low voltage distribution system (DS) responsible for more than 30% of the costs. We will present the key spatiotemporally depended cost structure of the HVT and DS parts of Power Systems and propose market rule evolution and market clearing control practices, as well as requisite information communication and computation capabilities that promise to enable DS connected flexible demand and other distributed resources – such as HVAC, Electric Vehicles, grid friendly appliances and storage -- to provide new efficiency gains at both the HV and DS parts of the Power System.

Bio: Michael C. Caramanis received his MS in Ch.E. from Stanford U. and MS and PhD in Engineering from Harvard U. He is Boston University Professor of Mechanical and Systems Engineering, teaches in the areas of Stochastic Control, supply chains and Power Markets, and conducts research in sustainable advanced building design and operation, control of demand and distributed resources in the presence of intermittent renewable generation, and the extension of power markets to include distribution/retail costs and congestion with load participating on a par basis to generation. He is widely published in the areas of supply chain control and in Power system capacity expansion, markets and demand response including co-authorship of Spot Pricing of Electricity Kluwer, 1988.

Ruben Juanes, MIT, Civil and Environmental Engineering Department
Talk Title: Nonequilibrium physics and computation of water infiltration in dry soil: Implications for the ecohydrology of arid regions

Abstract: The ecology and water budget of arid and semi-arid ecosystems depend critically on the dynamics of soil water. We show that pattern formation during water infiltration in soil, or fingering (Figure), exerts a powerful control on evapotranspiration, and allows for the presence of subsoil water and deep drainage fluxes in arid and semiarid climates, where potential evapotranspiration far exceeds mean annual precipitation. Subsoil water is available to deeply rooted plants, and recharges groundwater resources at rates that are potentially much higher than those previously estimated using simplified models of infiltration. We present a simplified point model of coupled vegetation and soil moisture dynamics, and establish the impact of fingering instabilities on the coexistence, competition and resilience of different plant communities. The proposed mechanism may be essential to explain the structure and resilience of water-stressed ecosystems, moderating their response to climate variability.

Bio: Ruben Juanes is the ARCO Associate Professor in Energy Studies in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at MIT. Prior to joining the MIT faculty in 2006, he was Acting Assistant Professor at Stanford University (2003-2005), and Assistant Professor at UT Austin (2006). He leads a research group in the area of multiphase flow in porous media, with application to geophysical problems in the areas of energy and the environment. He holds MS and PhD Degrees from the University of California at Berkeley.

David Culler, UC Berkeley, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department
Talk Title: Enabling a Sustainable Energy Infrastructure - a role for Information Technology

Abstract: After 150 years of industrial (r)evolution, as we contemplate how to arrest the rise in global temperature we must ask how we can bring Information Technology, which has brought such advances in productivity and performance, to bear on efficiency and sustainability. The problems of energy, climate, and sustainability are not crisp, clean technology challenges; they are complex Cyber-Physical Systems challenges. In this talk, we explore how to apply lessons of the Internet, i.e., design principles for building distributed and robust communications infrastructures, to develop an architecture for a cooperative energy network that promotes reduction in use and penetration of renewable sources. We explore how pervasive information can improve energy production, distribution and use. We investigate how design techniques for scalable, power proportional computing infrastructures can translate to the design of a more scalable and flexible electric infrastructure, encouraging efficient use, integrating local or non-dispatchable generation, and managing demand through awareness of energy availability and use over time. Our approach is to develop a cyber overlay on the energy distribution system in its physical manifestations: machine rooms, buildings, neighborhoods and regional grids. A scaled series of experimental energy networks demonstrate monitoring, negotiation protocols, control algorithms and Intelligent Power Switches integrating information and energy flows in a datacenter, building, and campus. We seek to understand broadly how information enables energy efficiencies: through intelligent matching of loads to sources, via various levels of aggregation, power proportional design, and by managing how and when energy is delivered to demand, adapted in time and form to available supply. Together these offer a path to a comsumer-centric grid with supply-following loads.

Bio: David Culler is a Professor and Chair of Computer Science, and Associate Chair of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences and Faculty Director of i4Energy at the University of California, Berkeley. Professor Culler received his B.A. from U.C. Berkeley in 1980, and M.S. and Ph.D. from MIT in 1985 and 1989. He has been on the faculty at Berkeley since 1989, where he holds the Howard Friesen Chair. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, an ACM Fellow, an IEEE Fellow and was selected for ACMs Sigmod Outstanding Achievement Award, Scientific American's 'Top 50 Researchers', and Technology Review's '10 Technologies that Will Change the World'. He received the NSF Presidential Young Investigators award in 1990 and the NSF Presidential Faculty Fellowship in 1992. He is co-PI on the NSF LoCal and ActionWebs CyberPhysical Systems projects and was the Principal Investigator of the DARPA Network Embedded Systems Technology project that created the open platform for wireless sensor networks based on TinyOS, and was co-founder and CTO of Arch Rock Corporation and the founding Director of Intel Research, Berkeley. He has done seminal work on energy efficiency, networks of small, embedded wireless devices, planetary-scale internet services, parallel computer architecture, parallel programming languages, and high performance communication, and including TinyOS, PlanetLab, Networks of Workstations (NOW), and Active Messages. He has served on Technical Advisory Boards for several companies, including People Power, Inktomi, ExpertCity (now CITRIX on-line), and DoCoMo USA. He co-chairs the IETF working group on Routing on Low Power and Lossy Networks.

Carla Gomes, Cornell, Department of Computer Science
Talk Title: Computational Challenges in Sustainability

Abstract: Computational sustainability is a new interdisciplinary research field with the overall goal of developing computational models, methods, and tools to help manage the balance between environmental, economic, and societal needs for sustainable development. The notion of sustainable development --- development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs --- was introduced in Our Common Future, the seminal report of the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development, published in 1987. In this talk, I will provide an overview of computational sustainability projects at the Institute for Computational Sustainability at Cornell University, with examples ranging from wildlife conservation and biodiversity, to poverty mitigation, to material discovery for fuel cell technology. I will highlight overarching computational challenges at the intersection of constraint optimization, machine learning, and dynamical systems. Finally, I will discuss the need for a new approach that views computational sustainability problems as "natural" phenomena, amenable to a scientific methodology, in which principled experimentation, to explore problem parameter spaces and hidden problem structure, plays as prominent a role as formal analysis.

Bio: Carla Gomes is a professor of computer science at Cornell University, with joint appointments in the Department of Computer Science, Department of Information Science, and the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management. Gomes is a fellow at the Radcliffe Advanced Study Institute at Harvard University (2011-2012). Gomes’s research has covered several themes in artificial intelligence and computer science, from the integration of constraint reasoning, operations research, and machine learning techniques for solving large-scale constraint reasoning and optimization problems, to the use of randomization techniques to improve the performance of exact search methods, algorithm portfolios, multi-agent systems, and game play. Recently, Gomes has become immersed in the establishment of computational sustainability, a new interdisciplinary field that aims to develop computational methods to help balance environmental, economic, and societal needs to support a sustainable future. Gomes has started a number of research projects in biodiversity conservation, poverty mapping, the design of "smart" controls for electric cars, and pattern identification for material discovery (e.g., for fuel cell technology). While at Radcliffe Gomes will write about computational sustainability and look for new collaborations to address challenges in computational sustainability. Gomes obtained a PhD in computer science in the area of artificial intelligence and operations research from the University of Edinburgh. She also holds an M.Sc. in applied mathematics from the Technical University of Lisbon. Gomes is the lead principal investigator of an award from the National Science Foundation's Expeditions in Computing program, the director of the newly established Institute for Computational Sustainability at Cornell, and a fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence.