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Meet Our Team

Gwelen Paliaga

Building Technology and Commercialization Expert

Gwelen Paliaga

Attaining high performance buildings with excellent energy use and healthy, comfortable indoor environments for people can be a challenge. Building design, construction, and operation practices are defined by numerous stakeholders from building code regulators to product manufacturers, design professionals, contractors, and operators—and occupants must live with the results. A common language and set of values are often missing between these important stakeholders.

 

Gwelen Paliaga, a building technology and commercialization expert at TRC, has spent his career as a ‘translator’ between these often-siloed areas of the energy-building industry, working towards benefits for all. At TRC, Gwelen leads cross-discipline research and consulting that combines engineering, building science, and human factors to advance building technologies and accelerate market adoption.

His work in the field for more than 16 years has earned Gwelen the trust of the design and construction industry, universities and national labs, public agencies, building owners and utilities—with whom he partners. Gwelen has held leadership positions with industry organizations that are scaling high performance buildings, including chairing ASHRAE standards committees and a recent term as ‘Industry Chair’ of the membership consortium at the Center for the Built Environment (CBE) at the University of California, Berkeley (UCB).

Gwelen’s unique expertise in the interplay between human factors and energy consumption started with his Master of Science in Architecture and building science at UCB.

“Most energy in buildings is used to meet human needs. Lighting, fresh air ventilation, heating, and cooling support our productivity, health, and comfort. A focus on human needs leads to design solutions that deliver more efficiency while also increasing occupant well-being and productivity.”

ASHRAE Journal

One great example of these partnerships and principles in action is Gwelen’s recent work to address ‘overcooling’ in commercial buildings, which is particularly relevant to the lower building occupancy created by COVID-19. An award-winning ASHRAE Journal article with Gwelen as lead author highlights how simple, inexpensive adjustments to building control logic and set points can drive big energy efficiency and indoor comfort improvements—and can be easily rolled out across entire portfolios of buildings.

This ‘overcooling’ solution has been incorporated into the new ASHRAE Guideline for advanced HVAC controls sequences (GDL 36). One of the primary energy savings features of GDL 36 is dynamic response to building loads, which offers the most savings during low-moderate occupancy—and represents something buildings owners/managers can do amidst COVID-19 impacts to save now and set a new precedent as more people return to work and other public spaces.

Looking ahead, Gwelen is optimistic about the synergies between energy performance and human factors: “We know that a significant portion of building energy consumption is wasted by missing occupant needs and through sub-optimal design and operation. This opens up potential to dramatically reduce buildings’ carbon footprint while improving people’s lives”.

To learn more about this work and other industry-advancing building technology and commercialization research at TRC, contact Gwelen.

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