Optimal Use of Utility Infrastructure for Residential Communities: Lessons Learned from COVID-19

Alam, Shahria | $50,000

British Columbia University of British Columbia 2020 NSERC Alliance COVID-19 Grant

The COVID‑19 pandemic is an urgent and growing concern for not only health but also for social and economic sectors. As an intervention response to this pandemic, closure of various public buildings, has been deemed necessary. The duration and type of closure vary with the type and work-behaviors of these industries. Besides, the length of intervention time is subject to uncertainty, with many experts proposing intervention models where the current social distancing strategies are continued over multiple time intervals. As a result of this pandemic, homes have been transformed into mixed-use spaces where home-schooling, office work, recreational activities, and social interaction have become a norm. While operational energy uses in other sectors such as commercial buildings and transportation has decreased, the energy use in the residential sector has been on the rise as occupants spend the majority of their time at home. The goal of this research is to assess the impacts of COVID‑19 lockdown intervention on the residential sector energy and carbon emissions. To achieve this goal, monitored energy data of the Wilden Living Lab (WLL) project will be used to analyze the change in occupants’ energy patterns on daily, weekly, and monthly scales. Data related to 3 months (March, April, and May) for lockdown year (2020) will be compared with the previous 2 (2018 and 2019) pre-pandemic years. The research will be used to assess residential energy, GHG emissions, and economic impacts under different stay-at-home scenarios. Besides, the integration of renewable energy resources as a backup source for pandemic-like situations, where energy demand is beyond supply capacity or power outage, will be investigated. The lessons learned from this study will provide valuable information for residential sector stakeholders. The results will be of particular importance in improving existing utility infrastructure emergency planning strategies in light of possible pandemic or natural disaster.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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