Research Projects

Current Research Projects

Future of Digital Facility Management

This research builds an integrative approach specific to the facility management work context that addresses the technological interactions, specifically the adoption of automation, robotics, and artificial intelligence (AI), in the changing nature of facilities operation and management (O&M) at the human-technology frontier, ultimately tying these technological questions to the socio-economic dynamics of the facility management workforce. The evolving archetypes will need to build on the combination of research methods from engineering, computer science, economics, education and adult training, human behavior, organizational behavior, and psychology to present convergent solutions.

Research Goal: To integrate and radically transform the nature of O&M in facilities by removing barriers to technology adoption.

Research Objectives: (1) Design a digital twin (DT) ecosystem of a facility that enables the transformation of FMs from mere service managers to offering innovative cutting-edge O&M services by providing both physical and cognitive assistance to them; (2) Design a multi-modal, user interface for this ecosystem that allows for seamless communications and interactions with FMs and other stakeholders, including the occupants. (3) Evaluate the willingness and abilities of FMs to utilize the proposed DT technology, resulting in a feedback loop to support continuous improvement to the developed technologies that provide details on barriers to adoption and opportunities for improvement; and (4) Assess economic, social, and organizational effects of adopting technology on FMs, occupants, and facility owners.


Digital Collaboration using Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) and Building Information Modeling (BIM) Technology 

The goal of this project is to identify the current Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) data workflow and handover process of its various transportation assets. The project will help in understanding how this process can be improved (and the comparative process flow) by developing a digital project handover process that utilizes BIM, IFC, COBie, or other technologies/methods. Moreover, the project aims to ensure a long-term data availability and linkage throughout all phases of a projects design, construction, and operation.

NNA Research: Responding to Energy Insecurity in Artic Housing Using a Community-Based Participatory Research

This project aimed to answer the question of "How can existing Alaska Native housing be adapted to better alleviate energy insecurity? How effective are existing energy efficiency retrofits; how can they be improved to reduce energy burden long-term?" The project had many focuses, but a major aspect of this research was fieldwork to gain knowledge on local values, culture, and traditions in order to best tailor towards the community.


Enhancing Design and Construction Technology Education Through the Context of Mass Timber

Mass timber is an emerging construction technology growing in popularity in the United States. One obstacle in the gradual adoption of mass timber construction is the limited availability of qualified engineers and designers. This project aims to identify existing timber engineering courses and educational resources available to university students and instructors in the United States and identify areas for improvement to enhance the future engineering and construction workforce. Specifically through input from a panel of qualified industry professionals, a DACUM chart will be produced using the Delphi Survey Methodology to provide a unified series of tasks and duties that are viewed to be important for entry level structural engineers working in mass timber design.  The results of this will provide clarity on curriculum needs to ensure graduating engineers are prepared to work with mass timber elements. Additionally, interviews will be conducted with university-level timber engineering instructors to discuss instructional materials that are currently available and determine what new educational resources are needed to help increase the availability of mass timber-related course taught nationwide. The results of the interviews and DACUM chart will guide the development of mass timber engineering educational materials, including learning modules, virtual tours, and student assignments that can be presented independently or implemented with existing engineering coursework.

CAREER: CAS-Climate: Improving the Participation of Diverse Residential Buildings in Demand Side Management

The goal of this research project is to develop an integrated framework to assess Demand Side Management potential of diverse residential households, specifically targeting undeserved, lower income urban rural, and remote populations. The project was based on three research goals revolving around socioeconomic factors, the relationship to occupancy and energy consumption, and addressing potential occupant comfort barriers to DSM participation. The educational goal behind the research is to inform existing and future workforce in sustainable, smart buildings and DSM management.

 (Website; News Article)

Industrial Assessment Center at Michigan State University 

Michigan State's Industrial Assessment Center was founded to allow faculty and students to work with Michigan Companies to save money, improve energy efficiency, and shrink carbon footprints. Michigan State offers the unique standpoint of being inclusive in their work, but also having the expertise to truly impact Michigan's communities and manufacturer's. (U.S. Department of Energy)

(Website; New's Article; Flyer)

Adaptive, Multi-Layered Fenestration Elements for Optimum Building Energy Performance and Occupant Comfort

This project looks into the efforts of reducing energy demands in various type's of buildings throughout the world. The research specifically looks into fenestrations (windows), and their effect on both comfort and effiency.  The research team collaborates with European colleagues in hopes of expanding knowledge. Teams involved aim to find practical solutions to improve the design and performance of fenestration within buildings. (National Science Foundation)


Simulation and validation of integrated dimmable lighting, automated shades, and thermal energy storage in commercial buildings for demand flexibility

The focus of this study is to model and validate a highly integrated system using programmed lighting, shading controls, and thermal energy storage systems for commercial buildings. The project attempts to utilize those smart building technologies to achieve a certain goal of shifting the electricity load and peak load reduction. The team modeled and simulated the smart building system by using daylighting and energy model software, including Radiance, WINDOW, EnergyPlus, and the latest plugin tools Ladybug/Honeybee based on the platform Grasshopper on computer aid design software Rhinoceros for co-simulation. The work in progress also includes validation for field-test results for the next step.

American residential pattern changes due to global pandemic coronavirus-2019 (COVID-19)

The goal of this project is to assess the impact of the global epidemic caused by severe respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) on American residential households. Major tasks of this project have been taken into consideration including (1) Using American Time Use Survey (ATUS) data to track the changes over the years to help with understanding the residential occupancy as well as improving the occupancy schedule in existing modeling and simulation tools (2) Use ATUS data to find demographic factors associated with the American residential households to help with uncovering the driven factors behind the changes.

Simulation, Challenge Testing & Validation of Occupancy Recognition & CO2 Technologies (ARPA-E SENSOR program)

This project aims to find and develop user transparent sensor systems that accurately quantify human presence to dramatically reduce energy use in commercial and residential buildings. The goal of this project is to create teams across Universities and Research Centers that develop sensing technologies that minimize or eliminate the need for human intervention while pursuing aggressive cost, performance, privacy, and usability requirements. 

(Website; ISU CoE News)

Developing a Virtual Assessment Process for More Efficient Student Training and Post-Assessment Analysis

This project has two main goals. The first goal is to identify methods of use of virtual models to train MSU Industrial Assessment Center (MSU IAC) students in assessment processes and evaluate their effectiveness. To accomplish this goal, virtual training environments will be created by scanning real-world environments, used for training of students via VR headsets connected to VR environments, then evaluated for impact on student training. The second goal is to evaluate the use of VR to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of IAC assessments, specifically during the post-assessment phase.

Exploring Perspective on Energy Efficiency Initiatives for Small and Medium-Sized Manufactures

The industrial sector accounts for roughly one third of emissions in the US. It is important to explore the different perspectives of industrial building owners and occupants to help address this current problem. The first part of this study discusses the barriers and motivations for these facilities when implementing an energy efficiency project. Additionally, this project discusses the most common payback periods which are important in deciding on an investment. 

The second part of this study focuses on addressing cost barriers which is a common theme in barriers and motivations from the previous chapter by looking into the non-energy impacts. Non-energy impacts (NEI), also known as non-energy benefits, are impacts that exclude energy cost reduction. Some examples include improved productivity, improved air quality, and improved morale of workers. 

Completed Research Projects

Sustainability Analysis of Unpaved Road Construction with Recycled Materials in Council Bluffs, IA (U.S. EPA) (Summary)

A Framework for Assessing the Impact of Extreme Heat and Drought Climate Scenarios on Urban Energy Production and Consumption (National Science Foundation)

The aim of this project was to tackle electricity issues during times of extreme heat and drought. The project links climate modeling consumption and production, and contributes to three major scientific advancements; generating refined future extreme heat and drought scenarios, development of a flexible electricity consumption model, and development of a data-driven stochastic optimization method for robust power-generation decision strategies. 

(Summary; ASME News; CCEE News; Ames Tribune)

Future growth of diverse demand response resources and their impact on transmission and distribution (Sloan Foundation)

Bridging the Gap Between Academia and Industry in Approaches for Solving Complex, Ill-Structured Problems (National Science Foundation) 

The goal of this project is to prepare engineering students in college for problems that may not be covered in higher education. The students are presented with problems that may not be covered in a curriculum, in hopes of analyzing their responses to better prepare them for issues post-graduation. The current phase includes three parts, (1) problem formulation; (2) protocol development; and (3) pilot study.

 (Summary; National Science Foundation)

Development of a Smartphone-Based Road Performance Data Collection (Iowa Highway Research Board)

Pavement is directly effected by the roughness, or smoothness, of the road. However, data collection revolving pavement is typically expensive. The goal in this project is to create a low cost smartphone collection based system to gather information on pavement distress levels annually. The project has five objects: (1)develop a smartphone-based pavement roughness measurement system, (2)identify and evaluate the potential capacities of a smartphone-based tool for detecting and measuring other road surface distress types, (3)develop a standardized nonproprietary data collection tool that can be used to collect roughness data required for pavement management, (4)test and calibrate the standardized nonproprietary collection tool for the various selected brands, (5)evaluate effective options to provide wireless communication links to deliver data


Low Cost Rural Surface Alternatives, Phase IV (Iowa Department of Transportation) 

The project has two main objectives; (1) Extensively instrument and monitor four granular-surfaced roadway sites around Iowa to obtain soil moisture, temperature, matric potential, frost-depth, and thawing period data for a range of Iowa soil types, moisture conditions, and climate conditions, (2)Begin developing computational and theoretical models for predicting the depths and durations of freezing and thawing in soils beneath granular-surfaced roadways, and evaluate their forecasting accuracy using NWS data for eventual statewide use without the need for subgrade soil sensors.


Self-heating Electrically Conductive Concrete Demonstration (Iowa Department of Transportation

Many transportation agencies allocate significant time and resources each year to remove ice and snow from their paved surfaces to achieve a safe, accessible, and operational transportation network. An electrically conductive concrete (ECON) heated pavement system (HPS) has been shown to be a promising alternative to conventional snow removal operations using snowplows and deicing chemicals, which is time-consuming, labor-intensive, and environmentally unfriendly. An ECON HPS utilizes the inherent electrical resistance of concrete to maintain the pavement surface at above-freezing temperatures and thus prevent snow and ice accumulation on the surface. Such a sustainable concrete pavement system improves its infrastructure resiliency by allowing it to be safe, open, and accessible during even harsh winter storms. 


Heated Airport Pavements Task 1-I: Updating FAA Advisory Circular 150/5370-17, Airside Use of Heated Pavements (Federal Aviation Administration)

Winter conditions such as snow and slush negatively impact airport success, as occupancy declines and likelihood for incidents increases due to conditions. Although traditional strategies of mechanical removal like shoveling and plowing, and chemical treatments such as salt to remove ice can be effective, the goal is to find an alternative to these methods through heated pavements. The benefits of this include improving winter operation capacity, reduction in environmental impacts of chemical methods previously used, and improvement of time effiency. 


Data-driven Assessment of Energy Efficiency Investment Behaviors of Midwest Residential Homeowners


The goal in this project is to assess the investment behaviors of homeowners regarding energy efficient technologies within their homes. The three keys to this project aim to look at; (1) Why homeowners have not made energy efficient investments, (2)Why HVAC is the first energy efficient investment, (3) How willing homeowners are to make efficient investments, (4) Characterizing homes/homeowners who have made investments, (5) Portraying cost/ benefit analysis.


Energy Efficiency in U.S. Rental Housing: Adoption Rates and Impact on Rent (internal-funding)

This project aims to look at the effect of energy efficient rental properties in three ways; (1) What are the adoption rates of energy efficient features in rental properties? (2) Does having energy efficient features in rental properties increase rental asking prices? (3) Is there a relationship between energy efficient premiums and location-specific environmental conditions?

Rental property owners need additional motivation and tangible benefits to invest in energy efficiency to reduce the energy efficiency gap. 


Development of Advanced Construction Strategies for Improved Energy Efficiency of Buildings (Iowa Energy Center)

Full-Scale Demonstration of Heated Portland Cement Concrete Pavement System: Energy and Thermodynamic Modeling (Federal Aviation Administration)

Electrically conductive asphalt being proposed in hopes of preventing the possibility of long delays at airports. The key in this project is to determine the accuracy for measuring heat sensitivity of heated pavement in comparison to parameters of ECON. Next steps for this project include modeling the melting process of snow and ice, calculation energy consumption, and studying the technical performance of the model. 


Thermal Comfort Evaluation Methodology for Residential Buildings (NSF)

This project looks into the use of residential HVAC systems, particularly in warmer climate zones, the electric grid in these locations experiences large fluctuations in the electricity demand (MW) during the summer months, while balancing occupant comfort. The five-step evaluation methodology includes: (1) design variable definition, (2) building energy modeling (BEM), (3) response surface development, (4) probabilistic evaluation using the response surface, and (5) result interpretation.


Full-Scale Testing of Heated Airport Pavements (Federal Aviation Administration) 

The aim of this project is to test pavement based on three classifications- low, medium, or high strength. Test items are used until failure and then reconstructed. By doing so, it allows for a variety of compounds to be tested to see which results are most beneficial. This construction cycle includes test pavement construction, traffic tests to failure, post traffic testing, and pavement removal. Static and dynamic sensors are used to track and collect data. 


Building Materials for Energy Efficiency: Adaptable Educational Modules (Iowa Energy Center)

The project serves to improve energy effiency in residential and commercial building sectors. The hope in this project is to educate students to be able to provide students with the knowledge they need in order to effectively apply energy efficient strategies to not only existing buildings, but also a new generation of buildings to come. 


Impact of Using Electric Ground Power Systems on Airport Electricity Demand Profile (Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP))

Development of Agricultural-Based Phase Change Materials for Building Applications (Iowa Energy Center)

Guide to Life-Cycle Data and Information Sharing Workflow for Transportation Assets  (Iowa Department of Transportation)

The objective of this project was to capture industry knowledge in regards to transportation assets, develop business process maps and data sharing maps for various types, and offer guidance in ways to better store, collect, and analyze data. 


Effect of Dynamic Shading Devices on Daylighting and Energy Performance of Perimeter Zones (ASHRAE 1710-RP)

The objective in this research is to find the effectiveness and energy savings potential of a variety of types of dynamic shading devices and electric lighting control in office spaces. The importance of these office buildings is finding the energy efficiency potential, while also considering the human element of comfort with light and temperature in the building. 


Appliance Daily Energy Use in Residential Buildings: Use Profiles and Model Development (NSF/Pecan Street Research Institute)

This study provides daily energy use profiles of four major household appliances: refrigerator, clothes washer, clothes dryer, and dishwasher, through analyzing disaggregated energy use data collected for 40 single family homes in Austin, TX. The study aims to look at three questions; (1) When and how much energy do appliances use throughout the day? (2) How much do these usages vary between homes and why does this vary? (3) What is the least amount of time needed to conduct a load profile?


Sustainability Analysis of Unpaved Road Construction with Recycled Materials in Council Bluffs, IA (U.S. EPA)

This project aims to look at the balance between funding for paving and upkeep of roads, while considering the cost, time, and energy effiency of paving roads. The research team will conduct a sustainability assessment of the new unpaved road construction and maintenance methods using the BE2ST-in-Highways assessment method. This assessment includes both Life Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA) to assess the cost savings, and Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) to assess environmental impacts and several other factors.


Residential Building Energy Data Analysis and Modeling (Earth Networks Inc

This project aims to provide more informed insights to customers about their energy use, peer comparisons, and recommendations to reduce energy use. This methodology uses a simplified thermodynamic model of the building that determines the type of HVAC system in use, and predicts future energy use based on the future month’s weather forecast. The results are used in a monthly scorecard provided to residential customers, which also includes targeted energy savings recommendations driven off peer comparisons.