A wide variety of alternative energy sources and energy efficient practices are available to public housing agencies seeking to improve their efficiency. While these new technologies and approaches offer potentially significant economic and environmental benefits, there are also risks associated with any technological transition. New technologies may not perform as expected or may involve unintended consequences for building owners, for residents, or for the environment. In addition, codes and utility rate structures must provide appropriate incentives for the adoption of new approaches by both building owners and residents.
Drexel University and the Philadelphia Housing Authority are working in partnership to establish a framework that will guide public housing authorities through the technology evaluation process that can speed the adoption of beneficial new technologies while managing the risks associated with technological transition.
This research draws on Drexel's existing expertise in building simulation modeling and decision analytic approaches to risk management. The project has the potential to fill important gaps in the existing technical literature on how to conduct appropriate auditing of multi-unit energy consumption data and how to manage the risks of new technology adoptions and how existing utility rate structures for public housing may incentivize or fail to incentive the transition to more energy efficient technologies.
The interactive relationship between PHA and Drexel University presents a new model for policy making based on engineering studies and a new approach to researching urban systems. DECI anticipates that this partnership between Philadelphia Housing Authority and Drexel University can be leveraged for future efforts that would substantially extend the framework. In particular, the existing two-year scope will provide only limited validation data on performance of the novel technologies. In addition, the current effort is limited to a single climatic zone, and the performance of many alternative energy technologies is highly dependent on climatic zone. Further efforts in this area would build substantially on the experience and data from the existing project, while deepening its base of real-world performance data and broadening the applicability of the guidance developed by the effort.