Research Tracker

This tool is intended for researchers and program managers to quickly find research projects around the country that are relevant to their work. The four organizations who provided content for this purpose represent the largest energy efficient buildings research portfolios in the country. These organizations each provided the content that they were comfortable with sharing publicly. Therefore, upon clicking on a particular project, it is possible that certain pieces of content are not present. Where possible, a point of contact is provided so that specific questions can be directed to that person. We welcome your comments! If you would like to provide any feedback on this tool (positive or constructive), please email

IBACOS will investigate a simplified residential air delivery system to resolve comfort issues reported in low-load, production-built homes. This project could result in state-of-the-art comfort distribution systems, as well as a thermal comfort metric that helps builders and HVAC contractors measure and communicate the value of improved comfort delivery systems.

Home Innovation Research Labs, Inc. will work to make the extended plate and beam system of incorporating insulation more accessible to builders through demonstration projects, technical documents, and code compliance assistance. Findings from these activities could play a critical role in improving the efficiency of home heating and cooling, which typically account for 40% of a home's energy consumption.

This proposal responds to BPA TIFO Interest Area 7, Cold Climate Heat Pump Water Heaters (HPWH). We propose to develop and demonstrate a novel integrated HPWH customized for demand response (DR) and efficient operation in cold climate homes.

This project will demonstrate the potential of breakthrough electric water heating and space conditioning technologies as a pathway to zero net energy. The project will explore the complex, interdependent systems in multifamily buildings and how they work together to achieve zero net energy status for the buildings in a cost-effective manner. Four multifamily buildings, designed to be affordable, will be evaluated in various stages of design and development. These buildings will share a goal of all electric zero net energy construction with 100 percent renewable energy generation, and will utilize innovative new heat pump technologies to serve the buildings water heating and/or space conditioning needs.

This work will determine the savings and the cost-effectiveness of advanced rooftop unit controller (ARC) Light Retrofits. This work will support a new evaluated measure through the development of a Standard Protocol, based on 38 Zeros meters and the ARC retrofit fan-only analysis. Utility grants will fully fund the installation of up to 30 ARC Light Retrofits, where 38 Zeros meter installations are also fully funded, with one-year of data hosting. (ARC Light Retrofits are expected to cost around $2,000, while the 38 Zeros meter installations are expected to cost around $1,500, including one year of data-hosting and retrieval of the 38 Zeros meter.) All grants will be paid by 9/15/15 because of the inability to spend money in the new rate period. Based on EER feedback, utilities will claim self-funded (non-EEI) savings as FY15 custom projects.

The goal is to develop a standard protocol to verify site-based savings for advanced rooftop unit (RTU) control (ARC) retrofits, based on manufacturer variable frequency drive (VFD) data. This will streamline the acquisition of 1 aMW of ARC retrofits and lower the cost of the impact evaluation. This project will draft a standard protocol to verify ARC retrofit site-based savings using Catalyst controller data. The project will compare best practice (unit-level, true-power over one-year with daily baseline cycling, as reported in Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) study) and four simplified savings methods, to determine a simplest-reliable method. Deliverables include a draft protocol and presentations to the RTUG and, if appropriate, to the RTF. Once approved, the standard protocol would allow the streamlined acquisition of ARC retrofits because baseline metering and long-term baseline cycling would not be required. Once 1 aMW of ARC retrofits (approximately 1,000 RTUs) are reported, several years of Catalyst controller data would be available for most of the units for the impact evaluation. Using the standard protocol and manufacturer data, no post-post cycling or additional instrumentation, such as Wattnodes for unit-level true-power, will be required.

This project will enable production homebuilders to confidently construct market-ready homes at higher efficiency levels and empower manufacturers to design better products to meet production builder needs.

The Center for Energy and Environment and partners will field test and optimize an innovative new method for whole house air-sealing using aerosol sealant. This aerosol sealant method is already a proven duct sealing solution, and can reduce time and labor costs by simultaneously measuring, locating, and sealing leaks.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in partnership with a US based global manufacturing services provider will design, construct, and demonstrate an affordable heat pump clothes dryer (HPCD) suitable for the US market. A novel hybrid HPCD will be developed and demonstrated to save at least 50% of the energy used by conventional electric dryers, and will have a payback of less than five years for at least 25% of BPA residential customers.

The University of Minnesota: Twin Cities will field test an innovative insulated solid-panel building envelope system that (1) eliminates thermal bridging, improves durability, and reduces construction costs compared to conventional, wood-framed construction; and (2) is appropriate for the affordable housing market.

High performance, low-load homes face unique space conditioning challenges that are not adequately addressed by HVAC design practices and equipment offerings. Equipment manufacturers have yet to include a diverse set of low-capacity equipment in their product offerings due to a lack of understanding of (1) where the low-load home market is headed and (2) the load profiles typical to low-load homes. This project looks to address both of these information gaps and ultimately send the necessary low-capacity equipment market signals to manufacturers, enabling them to design better products to meet production builder needs. The team will develop a technical whitepaper and presentation on the performance and cost tradeoffs of various equipment types/systems at meeting the comfort requirements of low-load homes, and forecasting the market penetration and equipment needs for these low-load homes.

Home Innovation Research Labs, Inc. will study a new approach to roof insulation retrofits that can be installed in one step and result in semi-conditioned attics. Findings from this project could play a critical role in improving the efficiency of home heating and cooling, which typically account for 40% of a home's energy consumption.

Does the combination of high use alerts and e-mail messages produce higher energy savings over just the home energy reports (HERs)? We would like to understand the level of effort it takes to launch this type of project. Cowlitz PUD in conjunction with O Power is conducting research to determine the incremental energy saving impact of an Advanced Digital Feedback and Communication Campaign in addition to O Power's Home Energy Reporting Program. Cowlitz will send 25,000 Home Energy Reports (HERs) to their customers while engaging 12,500 of them through an Advanced Digital Campaign using high use alerts and e-mail messaging. The HERs program uses billing data, census data, and other information to create a neighbor-to-neighbor billing comparison to try and change human behavior resulting in kilowatt hours saved. The hypothesis is that the customer will be moved to use less energy, operate their home more efficiently or to make no-cost, low-cost, or deemed measure changes in their home if they can compare their use with like customers. The Advanced Digital Campaign is experimental. Cowlitz is one of just a few utilities testing this approach. Research results will be available in August of 2013. Improvement over previous research: Cowlitz has advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) and will be able to provide 24-hour interval data making this the first time in the Northwest that HERs has been combined with interval data.

Does the combination of the O Power's Home Energy Reports (HERs) and the Social Energy social media application create incremental energy savings impacts? This project seeks to determine the incremental energy saving impact of Social Energyan energy efficiency social media application. Social Energy enables users to compare their energy use to a self-defined group. This Social Energy Campaign is experimental. Clark is one of a few utilities testing this approach. This study will combine the Social Energy media application along with O Power's Home Energy Reporting Program. Clark will send Home Energy Reports (HERs) to 20,000 customers while engaging 10,000 of these customer through Social Energy. This application will allow Clark's customers to create their own online efficiency communities. The project has been implemented, evaluation program done during 2014 to understand the program's impact on energy savings. Improvement on previous work: Testing this application with a smaller NW utility and understanding what level of effort is involved in launching this type of program as well as determining the savings impact.

During BPA's 2016 Multifamily Technical Advisory Group, this technology was evaluated and recommended for future research. BPA is joining with NEEA and Ecotope to conduct a bench test to determine if this will be a viable alternative to conduct future field tests in the Pacific Northwest. The bench test will be document the system performance and noise levels to determine if the unit is ready for more lab and field tests.

The Better Buildings Residential Network connects energy efficiency programs and partners to share best practices and learn from one another to increase the number of homes that are energy efficient. Better Buildings Residential programs and partners have invested more than $3 billion from federal funding and local resources to build more energy-efficient communities across the United States. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is continually expanding this network of residential energy efficiency programs and partners to new members.

BPA completed four installations of the rooftop unit (RTU) Catalyst unit, a packaged controls technology providing variable frequency drive (VFD) and demand control ventilation (DCV). These controllers were retrofits for packaged HVAC systems on four BPA buildings. Installations were completed during 2014.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) will work to address key issues in high performance HVAC and envelope systems by mitigating market uncertainty regarding the durability of high-performing envelope systems and validating and demonstrating advanced heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) solutions for low-load homes. Improved technologies and systems can result in significant savings on monthly utility bills, reducing the payback period and offsetting the initial investment for the homeowner.

The Building America Solution Center provides residential building professionals with access to expert information on hundreds of high-performance design and construction topics, including air sealing and insulation, HVAC components, windows, indoor air quality, and much more.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Building America program recognizes that the education of future design/construction industry professionals in solid building science principles is critical to widespread development of high performance homes that are energy efficient, healthy, and durable. The Building Science Education Guidelines are based on the collaborative efforts of DOE and its stakeholders to develop a framework for organizing core building science principles with key job classifications.

This project picks up on an ET project with long-term performance monitoring of a cold climate heat pump in Fairbanks, AK. In the United States, approximately 14.4 million dwellings use electricity for heating in cold and very cold regions, consuming 0.16 quads of energy annually. A high-performance cold climate heat pump (CCHP) can result in significant savings over current technologies (greater than 70% compared to strip heating) and in annual primary energy savings of 0.1 quads when fully deployed, which is equivalent to a reduction of 5.9 million tons of annual carbon dioxide emissions.
A case study will be created for submission to the Building America Solution Center that documents how the equipment performed during the field study, including estimated HSPF and SEER ratings for this type of technology in order to provide a reference for comparison to existing equipment.

ClearStak will work with Heating Systems, LTD (Thermo-Control), a biomass-fired heating device manufacturer in Cobleskill, NY, to replace the existing controls on the Model 600 wood burner with non-proprietary components and software. This will be completed using their existing Intelligent Biomass Controller (IBC) to optimize combustion efficiency. The IBC allows for wireless connectivity, giving end-users access to remote monitoring capabilities, data reports, and alert notifications. Following the successful modifications to the system and the integration of the IBC, the entire system shall be tested using the Method 28WHH for Certification of Cord Wood-Fired Hydronic Heating Appliances With Partial Thermal Storage (Method 28 WHH-PTS) method at an EPA accredited testing laboratory. The project will be completed with UL testing and certification of the entire system, resulting in a commercial-ready product

This project will develop and demonstrate a Climate Appropriate Air Conditioning system for commercial buildings. The heart of this system is an intelligent HVAC controller that processes signals from building sensors and system feed-back to maximize system efficiency. This control system will manage two technologies to optimize building energy and peak demand reduction. Getting fresh air into commercial buildings is a code requirement. However, the ingress of hot air into a cooling system and vice versa presents an inefficiency problem. This project will evaluate heat-recovery ventilation (HRV) and indirect evaporative cooling (IEC) to decrease the temperature of the incoming air in the summer and increase it in the winter. Both technologies can be intelligently controlled by the building controller to reduce cooling and heating costs. This project will also research low global warming refrigerants for commercial buildings

Overall goal is to facilitate commercialization of this technology in the Pacific Northwest. This is a continuation of the previous and current work with the Sanden split system heat pump water heater (HPWH). Sanden will provide a UL listed version of its split system HPWH designed for marketing in the US with particular focus on the Pacific Northwest. This project will assess and report on the market readiness of this product after examining: 1) freeze protection strategy and operation for both power on (including circulation and heat tape) and power off; 2) tank port layout and threads from both water heating and combined space and water heating system perspectives; 3) electrical connections; 4) labeling; 5) documentation including user and installation manuals; 6) warranty and service provisions; 7) cost; 8) installation training materials and strategy; and 9) marketing and installation strategies.

NEEP conducted a market assessment of existing installer practices as well as existing guidance tools, protocols and resources specific to cold climates. Using the market assessment findings, NEEP developed ccashp design and installation guidance for trade contractors. The documents are developed to assist installers around sizing and selecting ASHPs for cold climate applications, while preserving high efficiency, performance, and customer satisfaction. HI Cat will cross-promote and link to the guidance.

The Washington State University (WSU) Energy Program, in partnership with Cowlitz PUD, Energy Trust of Oregon (ETO), Idaho Power, Inland Power and Light, Northwest energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA), Pacific Gas and Electric, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Puget Sound Energy (PSE), Mitsubishi Electric and Sanden International proposes to conduct research on two types of combined space and water heat pumps in field and controlled experiments in existing homes of various efficiencies and climates. One technology uses carbon dioxide (CO2) refrigerant and will be tested for performance at six field sites and at the PNNL lab homes for efficiency and demand response capability. The second technology uses a conventional refrigerant and combines ductless heat pump space heating and cooling technology with water heating and will be field tested at five locations in the region's hottest and coldest climates as well as in the marine coastal zone. Costs of system installation, monitoring and retrofit will be collected and analyzed.

The project will focus on the performance of different attic assemblies and their associated heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. Field measurements of attic and HVAC system performance will be conducted in two new high performance homes in California with sealed and insulated attics. One home will be built to be about 30 percent better than Title 24 and the other will be a ZNE home. The attic insulation approach will be a new lower-cost approach using blown insulation that does not use expensive spray-foam. The results of the measurements will be used directly to provide technical support for potential changes to Title 24 and provide information to contractors and builders on sealed and insulated attic performance and alternative approaches.

This project will develop and pilot-test a complete, low cost, and standards based Retail Automated Transactive Energy System (RATES), and behind the meter energy management solution, that minimizes the cost and complexity of customer participation in energy efficiency programs, while maximizing the potential of large numbers of small loads to improve system load factor, shave peaks, integrate renewable generation and otherwise provide low opportunity-cost resources to the grid.

The purpose of this agreement is to fund the full-scale deployment demonstration of the Vortex Process Technology in cooling towers of commercial buildings. This technology has been used successfully in Europe and will be testing in California to address state specific goals for water and energy savings

Three different attic designs will be refined, tested, evaluated, and demonstrated in new home construction. The team will recommend the best of these approaches to home builders addressing cost-effectiveness and energy-efficiency. The baseline for comparison will be current energy efficiency code practices for attic construction involving ventilated, uninsulated attics containing code compliant ducts. The team will evaluate the new design approaches analytically at the start of the project. Researchers will assess approaches that include methods to produce sealed, insulated attics, as well as, standard vented attics, both of which have been demonstrated and are in limited use in the market today but currently add considerable cost to builders. The team will employ new and novel installation methods and materials that have the potential for energy savings on par with ducts in the conditioned space, but at a cost similar to current practice.

This project will develop and demonstrate an approach to scale residential retrofits for disadvantaged communities that will focus on customer-centric solutions. This project will develop and demonstrate an innovative approach, focusing on energy efficient retrofit packages that are non-intrusive to occupants and have the potential of reducing energy use by 30 to 40 percent.

This project will demonstrate how a large number of small electric loads, each impacted by and tuned to individual customer preferences can provide load management for both utilities and the California Independent System Operator (California ISO). The recipient will work with an extensive spectrum of leading product providers covering all major distributed energy resources (DERs), such as Nest (thermostats), ThinkEco (plug loads), Honda, BMW (auto), EGuana (smart Inverter) and Ice Energy (Thermal Storage). A variety of price signals will be tested for Time-of-Use customers such as Critical Peak Pricing and Demand Rate. The project will use deep analytics to evaluate individual customer preferences for demand management using microdata from devices and aggregate the responses to meet grid needs at different distribution and transmission levels.

The purpose of this project is to improve small and large commercial customer participation in demand response programs by providing a cost-effective energy management system that allows a wide range of hardware and service offerings as well as effective and automated price-based management.

The project goal is to demonstrate the substantial demand response (DR) and energy savings are achievable in supermarket refrigeration systems and that the integrity and safety of refrigerated products will be maintained to minimize risks to supermarket owners and customers. The project plans to analyze supermarket refrigeration energy loads in the Pacific Northwest for both demand response and energy efficiency. The purpose is to identify the most promising control strategies and technologies that can yield energy savings and demand response as part of an integrated management approach.

This project is a controlled field study and lab test that assessed the demand response (DR) potential of split system and unitary heat pump water heaters (HPWHs) that use carbon dioxide (CO2) refrigerant. The researchers included Washington State University (WSU), Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Efficiency Solutions, and Ecotope working with Cascade Engineering Services.

This project seeks to conduct the technical analyses, demonstration, market evaluation, and regulatory engagement necessary to realize cost-effective high-accuracy measurement and verification (M&V) for northwest efficiency programs. The focus of the effort is whole-building M&V for commercial buildings.

Optimize heat pump water heater (HPWH) next generation project for both EE and DR. The major objectives of the project are:
1. Demonstrate and quantify the energy performance of the prototype GE Brillion GeoSpring Hybrid Water Heater with and without exhaust air ducting over heating and cooling conditions in the lab homes
2. Evaluate or quantify the potential for the GE smart grid-enabled HPWH to provide demand response (to both increase/absorb [INC] and decrease/shed/shift [DEC] load) under various price signals sent to the unit.

In addition, the proposed project will provide GE information to determine and design the optimal ducting configurations for their unit should they decide to offer this feature as an option for this new-to-the-market unit.

The proposed project will demonstrate Transformative Wave Technology eIQ building management system (BMS) year-round capability for meeting BPA demand response criteria for roof top units, lighting, miscellaneous electric loads, and electric hot water heaters. The demand response that will be met will be for day-ahead response, under 10-minute response and permanent load reduction. The goal is to evaluate the cost-effectiveness, feasibility and scalability of the eIA BMS for both energy efficiency and demand response.

This project will demonstrate cost-competitive ZNE design strategies that combine occupant needs with technology solutions to create new pathways for residential ZNE communities. The project's goals are cost effectiveness for the customer, affordability, overcoming customer apprehension, establishing a track record of new technology for builders, enabling distribution grid integration, creating a planning process for ZNE communities, evaluating community solar and evaluating the impact of future changes to ZNE cost effectiveness. This project will also aim to understand the operation and energy use of the unregulated loads.

The Lighting Research Center (LRC) of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute will work with the Lighting Design Lab at Seattle City Light (SCL), a leading manufacturer of LED outdoor lighting and a leading controls manufacturer to demonstrate a sensor-controlled, adaptable LED lighting system in the parking lots for municipal, retail, or similar parking lot.

Working with project partners from the Seattle Lighting Design Laboratory, the Lighting Research Center (LRC) will identify a suitable outdoor lighting installation in a parking lot and conduct evaluations of energy and power use, visual responses of people in and approaching the outdoor location, and subjective ratings of safety and personal security while viewing and occupying the location. The design of the lighting installation will utilize published research on the spectral sensitivity of the human visual system for scene brightness perception and on the relationships between scene brightness and perception of safety and security previously published by the LRC project team. The proposed project will consist of a full-scale outdoor lighting demonstration at a parking lot facility within BPA service territory. The demonstration will be based on a proposed specification method for maximizing perceptions of safety and security of occupants, taking advantage of the differential spectral (color) sensitivity of the human visual system for brightness perception at nighttime light levels. Sensations of brightness are in turn strongly related to perceptions of personal safety and security in outdoor locations. It is anticipated that using white light sources such as a lighting emitting diode (LED) illumination in place of conventional high pressure sodium (HPS) illumination energy savings of 40-50% will be possible while maintaining perceptions of brightness, safety, and security.

This project seeks to develop operational procedures and proper system sizing guidelines for the inclusion of thermal storage in biomass-fired steam generation. The Town of Chester will design, install, commission, and evaluate a high-efficiency, low-emission pellet-fired steam boiler integrated with a wet steam accumulator for thermal storage. The system will be installed in the Town of Chester municipal building in Chestertown, NY, a 36,000 sq. ft. brick building originally fitted with a steam heating system. The existing boiler room has two oil-fired steam boilers, one currently out-of-service, which will be replaced by the proposed biomass-fired steam boiler. The project will demonstrate, measure, and evaluate the benefits of complete system integration, including a properly sized biomass-fired boiler, adequate thermal storage, building energy management and controls, and an existing oil-fired boiler

Demonstrate Strategic Energy Management Analytics (Build Plus) in 2 buildings for 1 year. This research builds on a tool created with funding through BPAs Technology Innovation Research and Development Program. Work has continued to refine the tool and research needs to be conducted to verify savings. The tools will be installed at the facilities for up to 1 year starting in 2016 and analyses will follow in late 2017.