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Newsletter - Volume 4 Issue 2 - October 2015

A bulletin of the IEEE Computer Society Special Technical Community on Sustainable Computing

Providing quick access to timely information on sustainable computing.

Sponsored by:

Message from the outgoing chair

by Danilo Ardagna, Politecnico di Milano

I want to thank the STC-SC for giving me the opportunity to serve as general chair last year. As was initially planned almost one year ago it is time for me to step back.

Within the STC ecosystem we have done very well during the last few years. Sustainable computing STC is second in the number of members ranking (we reached almost 600 members at the time of writing) and I believe we have an opportunity to grow the STC-SC community further and contribute towards making these Special Technical Communities an integral component of the IEEE CS ecosystem.  

I’m also happy to announce that recently  the new IEEE Transactions on Sustainable Computing has been established ( and we will have the opportunity to read high-quality papers exploring our research interests in a short while.  

It is my pleasure to welcome Niklas Carlsson as the new general chair of the Sustainable computing STC. Niklas is the right candidate to take over, considering the amount of effort he put in the past as Academic chair. Niklas has also helped us recruiting new blood into the STC-SC inviting colleagues to contribute and push forward the work that has been done so far. 

I want to conclude my short column thanking Cristina Rottondi for her effort as editor and all of our chairs for the exemplary work they continuously put into the newsletter. 

Guys, my best wishes going forward!

Danilo Ardagna

Message from the incoming chair

By Niklas Carlsson, Linköping University, Sweden

It is my pleasure to welcome you to the October 2015 issue of the STC Sustainable Computing (STC-SC) newsletter. First, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the outgoing chair, Danilo Ardagna. Thank you for your many contributions to STC-SC and for your help in the transition period. I hope that you will continue to contribute to the community! Second, I would like to thank all our officers for their hard work within the STC and for collecting and spreading interesting information related to the STC. Third, I would like to thank our community, including both members and non-members, which together try to help address a wide range of sustainability issues.

Being the first newsletter as a chair, I want to thank the STC-SC for the opportunity to chair the STC-SC. I think the STC-SC has a very important role in the sustainability landscape and is very excited about trying to work with our team to have STC-SC fulfill its potential.

I envision the STC as a bridge between many groups in our society, including people from industry, from academia, politicians, students, and all other people and organizations interested in finding and implementing new and better sustainability solutions. While the STC is under the IEEE umbrella, I think it is important that we are inclusive and open to new members from a wide range of backgrounds. This will help us collaborate and share ideas across domains, and help recruit young new researchers, inventors, and entrepreneurs to this important domain.

To achieve this goal, I think two things are particularly important. First, I think it is important that we continue to build a community that is open for everybody, not only current IEEE members. Ideally, we should include and share information to/from people from different professions, backgrounds, and from different disciplines. Compared to other communities, I think that the STC has a great opportunity here, as we in contrast to many other (professional) communities do not have membership fees. The public newsletter and our other information channels also play a central role here. Through the newsletter we can for example share success stories, take the pulse of the community, highlight people/groups/organizations/findings that may inspire, and share any other information that may be of interest to the people community.

Second, I would like to see us include all aspects of suitability. I hope that we all agree that sustainability is important and that there are many ways that we as a community can help improve environmental, economic, and societal sustainability. This may include improving Information Communication Technology (ICT) solutions, use ICT to improve non-ICT processes and other societal challenges, including (but not limited to) everything from building the next generations smart grids, buildings, data centers, networks, and other infrastructure to using computations to find processes and other solutions that make the world a better place to live in. However, as we continually face new challenges, we should not limit ourselves only to the problems considered by our current members, but also welcome other new and important sustainability challenges too.

Let’s work together in trying to grow the community and finding ways to help bridge communities and share information that help us achieve our global suitability goals. If you are not already a member, please join us. If you want to contribute to the newsletter, please contact our excellent newsletter editor Cristina Rottondi. (We are looking for both technical and non-technical contributions accessible to everybody.) And most of all, let’s work together to find new and better sustainability solutions.

Campus pulse survey on Green Behaviors

By Cristina Rottondi (Dalle Molle Institute for Artificial Intelligence, Lugano, Switzerland) and Niklas Carlsson, Linköping University, Sweden 

The research community is curre
ntly designing new and improved techniques to improve energy utility. Some of these techniques can greatly benefit from end-users willingness
to change their behaviors. In this article we surveyed a group of students at Linköping University, (Sweden) on their willingness to change their "green behaviors". The students include a mix of local undergraduate/master students and exchange students from various countries. The survey was completely voluntary, given at the end of a lecture of a course on computer networking, and the students where told (both in writing and orally) that only aggregate results (and a voluntary photo) would be published in the IEEE STC-SC newsletter. In total, 28 students elected to do the survey.  (A subset of these students is shown in the photo.)

Before revealing the results of what this group of students (and tomorrow's leaders!) say about their willingness to change their energy usage patterns, I must say that this is an intelligent and fun group of student, and that we do not know how this (or any other information related to this group of students) may have biased the results ... While we hope that you will find some interest and value in the answers of these students, the results should hence only be interpreted as a sample.

Questions and answer frequencies for the group

Question 1: Would you be willing to defer the working cycle of your dishwasher/washingmachine/dryer if you could benefit of a lower energy price during a specific time window due to time variable tariffs? 

Question 2: Would you be willing to provide information related to your energy/water daily consumption patterns to your neighbors by participating to an automatic demand response distributed mechanism, if this could lead to a reduction of your monthly bill? 

Question 3: Would you be willing to share information related to your daily travelling patterns to participate a car pooling initiative? 

Question 4(a): Would you choose to use public/green transportation, even if it increases your travelling time? 

Question 4(b): Same as question 4(a), but consider % increase instead.

Question 5: Would you be willing to participate to a social platform which proposes individual and/or multiplayer challenges related to the reduction of water/energy/CO2 emissions?

Towards the integration of the Smart Campus in the Smart Grid: SCUOLA project

By Giacomo Verticale, dept. of Electronics, Information and Bioengineering, Politecnico di Milano (Italy)

Tackling energy issues in the urban environment is a key factor for the achievement of the objectives of energy efficiency, integration of Renewable Energy Sources (RESes), and reduction in the emissions of pollutants. Nowadays, more energy is used for building heating and conditioning, rather than for industrial plants. The increasing use of Dispersed Generation and of Renewable Energy Sources requires a deeper integration of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) into the electric grid, resulting in a Smart Grid. In turn, the Smart Grid becomes a fundamental building block of the Smart City, which further integrates the electrical grid and the urban services, including the services provided by public spaces and buildings such as schools and university campuses.

The “SCUOLA - Smart Campus as Urban Open LAbs” Italian Project, funded by the Lombardy Region, aims precisely at improving the efficient usage of the Dispersed Generation by integrating the Smart Grid and the management of the thermal comfort and electricity demand in large public buildings. The project consortium includes a major Distribution System Operator (A2A), two universities (Politecnico di Milano and University of Brescia), and ten large and medium enterprises active in the field of installation, operations, monitoring, and management of RESes, combined cooling heat and power (CCHP), Heating Ventilating and Air Conditioning (HVAC), and Electric Vehicles (EV) charging stations.

The SCUOLA project’s major objective is the efficient usage of the power produced by in-campus generation plants by maximizing the self-consumption and by scheduling the sale to the grid of excess power production in order to maximize the revenue or to comply to explicit Demand Response (DR) requests by the DSO. This is achieved by means of an Energy Management System, which manages the usage of energy storage banks and of deferrable, interruptible and/or malleable loads. The EMS makes its decisions on the basis of snapshots of the state at a given time and of the available forecasts of the future energy production from generators, the future demand by electric loads, and the future cooling or heating demand by the users of the buildings. The EMS is scheduled to run each hour and decide what devices to run for the following hour considering a forecast horizon of one full day.

The project demonstrators in Milano and Brescia comprise a CCHP unit, which is an interruptible and malleable generator and a set of Photovoltaic arrays, which are time-variable but neither interruptible nor malleable generators. It also comprises a set of HVAC units, which are interruptible and malleable loads, a set of air handling units, which are interruptible but not malleable loads, various storage banks and a set of controllable plugs including EV charging stations, which are interruptible and malleable loads.

The SCUOLA demonstrators are always grid connected, so any surplus power is sold and any power deficit results in buying from the grid. The interaction between the smart campus and the grid comprises three major use cases: the market-driven, the demand response, and the emergency scenarios.

In the market driven use case, the EMS evaluates various possible heating or cooling profiles, electricity production (in case of the CCHP of PV plants) or consumption profiles (in case of the HVAC units), charge/discharge profiles of the storage banks, and EV charge profiles. Depending on the contract, the campus can either have predetermined flat or time-varying tariffs or can operate on the Day Ahead energy market or even on the Real-Time energy market. In this scenario, the EMS decides what devices to run and the expected amount of power that will be bought or sold in the following period with the objective to minimize the campus energy bill without jeopardizing the users’ thermal comfort and availability of the EVs and other controlled loads.

In the demand response use case, the DSO periodically issues Demand Response Events (DRE). Each DRE is targeted towards one or more subscribers and is characterized by a manifest specifying: an upper limit to the active power that the subscriber can drain from the grid, an upper limit to the active power that the subscriber can inject into the grid, an amount of reactive power that the customer should inject into the grid. The DRE is also associated to an initial time, a final time, and an economic incentive. The DRE is issued a few hours in advance with respect to the start time, and the EMS is not required to explicitly accept or refuse the DRE offer, but is expected to take the offer into account when optimizing the campus behavior. At the end of the DRE, the DSO checks which subscribers complied to the manifest and subtracts the incentive from the subscriber’s bill. Therefore, the demand response use case is an extension of the market drive use case in which the energy price also depends on the EMS decision whether to comply or not to the DRE.

Finally, in the emergency use case, the DSO takes full control of the subscriber’s load. The DSO can either detach the subscriber, limit the power generation, or change the amount of reactive power. It is worth noting that the EMS has a much finer knowledge of the campus behavior than the DSO, thus DREs should be seen as a way to avoid any foreseeable emergency situations while sacrificing energy efficiency as little as possible.


For the interested reader, a preliminary version of the SCUOLA EMS is described in [1].

[1] Rottondi et al. “An energy management framework for optimal demand response in a smart campus” In Proceedings of the Fourth International conference on Green IT Solutions (ICGREEN 2015). Online: