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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 sharing publically. 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 basc@pnnl.gov.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will provide a suite of organizational, analysis, implementation, and verification methodologies, tools, and resources to help small commercial buildings meet the 2030 District Challenge to reduce energy by 20%. This support aims to help small commercial buildings in major U.S. cities save up to 2.4 billion kBtu a year.

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.

The University of Florida will develop a technology for compact, low-cost combined water heating, dehumidification, and space cooling. This technology has the potential to save 480 TBtu/year in water heating and an additional 135 TBtu/year by reducing the air conditioning load.

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.

The Industrial Science & Technology Network, Inc. will develop an environmentally clean, cost-effective building insulation with superior performance. Commercialization of this technology would reduce U.S. energy consumption related to building envelope components by 7%, equal to $8 billion in annual economic savings.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will identify an alternative method to estimate two difficult-to-measure inputs used in building energy modeling. The end product will simplify and help automate the process of creating a calibrated model for existing buildings.

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.

Steven Winter Associates will validate the heating and occupant-based savings in existing multifamily units using "smart" and connected terminal unit controls.

Seventhwave's Accelerate Performance scales owner demand for energy performance at a cost comparable to current construction by eliminating key market bariers. This program will achieve an average of 50% realized savings compared to traditional 30% modeled savings for aggressive new construction projects.

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.

Argonne National Laboratory will develop an acoustic method of measuring the infiltration of a building envelope. The method will enable infiltration measurement of all buildings, which could lead to decreased building energy use.

Oak Ridge National Lab (ORNL), with its partner 3M, is developing adhesive chemistries for bonding aluminum and copper during heat exchanger manufacture, resulting in enhanced bonding and significant energy savings.

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.

Southface Energy Institute will develop energy efficiency evaluation and upgrade tools that provide at least a 50% energy improvement in new construction and a 20% energy improvement from upgrades to existing buildings, as well as develop energy audit training materials. These tools and training materials will help spur energy efficiency gains in new and existing buildings.

The purpose of this research is to develop and demonstrate an integrated humidity and ventilation control solution to improve indoor air quality, comfort, and energy performance for low-load homes in hot-humid and mixed-humid climates.

BuildingIQ, Inc. will optimize HVAC energy use across commercial buildings using a cloud-based software application that automatically adjusts temperature set points to reduce energy consumption. This software could reduce HVAC-related energy use in commercial buildings by 12% - 25%.

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.

Optimized Thermal Systems, with their partners Heat Transfer Technologies, LLC, and interest from United Technologies Research Center, will develop a manufacturing procedure for a serpentine heat exchanger for heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems that has 90% fewer joints than current heat exchangers.

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.

The University of Minnesota 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.

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.

The Institute for Market Transformation will investigate whether investing in statewide building energy code education, training, and outreach programs can produce a significant change in residential building code compliance rates. The results of these activities provide the necessary business case to influence non-government entities, particularly utilities, to make investments in similar programs, which could lead to substantial national energy savings.

Clemson University, with their partners Harvard University, Phase IV Engineering Corp., and Iowa Energy Center, will develop, demonstrate and pre-commercialize low-cost, digital plug-and-play, passive radio frequency identification sensors for measuring indoor and outdoor temperature and humidity, which will improve building operations and cut energy costs.

The objective of this project to develop and commercialize white and amber OLED lighting solutions that are uniquely tailored to the health care industry, ranging from hospital to senior assisted living centers. This project will include five main deliverables: 1) Voice of customer (VOC) exploration with hospital and healthcare personnel including nurses, facilities and other medical staff to identify lighting applications in which OLED would provide unique value. 2) Tuning amber OLED panels, if necessary for large scale production specifically for healthcare, 3) Designing and fabricating OLED fixture prototypes based on VOC 4) obtaining feedback from medical staff on prototypes including performance and effects on workflow, patients or other concerns and define launch product 5) establishing path for full commercialization of product(s).

The National Trust for Historic Preservation will provide low-cost energy efficiency services to small businesses in California, Wisconsin, New York, and Washington State. These efforts aim to increase small business participation in energy retrofit programs and could lead to up to $30 billion in annual energy savings.

Carnegie Mellon University will develop, deploy, test, and refine an open-source and open architecture software platfordm for secure building managemener applications, specifically tailored towards small- and medium-sized buildings.

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.

NYSERDA has been a strong supporter of ASSIST since its inception in 2002. This has helped New York State to remain on the cutting edge of this quickly advancing technology. To continue to help to prepare New York State manufacturers, consumers, lighting specifiers and decision-makers for the solid-state lighting market, the LRC is seeking to continue NYSERDA's membership in ASSIST and is seeking funding from NYSERDA to support the continued development of metrics and standardized measurement methods for LEDs, LED systems, and LED luminaires.

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.

This project entails the measurement of time-integrated concentrations and temporal profiles of humidity and established contaminants of concern in a minimum of 64 new homes located in cold and marine climate zones.

This project is part of a national study aimed at characterizing indoor air quality in occupied homes. The homes will be up to current energy codes, and researchers will closely monitor the use and performance of mechanical ventilation systems in those homes. Indoor and outdoor air will be sampled for formaldehyde, nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxide, and particulates as part of the indoor air quality characterization.

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.

This research project is focused on opportunities for achieving near-term energy efficiency gains in heating appliances, specifically integrated systems that combine low ambient heat pumps and high efficiency oil-fired boilers. The Contractor shall conduct field studies in order to better understand how these hybrid systems are currently being installed and operated. Following the field studies, an analysis effort shall be undertaken in order to quantify the effect of a heating system's components performance, sizing, and control strategies on annual energy performance. The Contractor shall then develop a Best Practices Guide for hybrid heat pump/oil-fired boiler systems. The project concludes with the dissemination of the Best Practices Guide as well as the publication and conference presentation of any technical papers developed from the laboratory evaluation.

This research project is focused on opportunities for achieving near-term energy efficiency gains in heating appliances, specifically high-efficiency, low-cost, boilers with integrated tankless coils for domestic hot water. The project begins with an evaluation of commercially available tankless coil boilers and potential low-cost technical improvements. The Contractor shall evaluate the performance of (6) of these boilers in a laboratory setting in order to evaluate the thermal, seasonal, and annual efficiency. Following the laboratory evaluation, the Contractor shall develop a Best Practices Guide for Tankless Coil Boilers. The project concludes with the dissemination of the Best Practices Guide as well as the publication and conference presentation of any technical papers developed from the laboratory evaluation.

The city of Milwaukee will demonstrate retrofit approaches, including bundled energy efficiency retrofits paired with emerging finance mechanisms, in up to 200 commercial buildings across Wisconsin. These demonstrations could lead to increased adoption of energy efficiency technologies throughout the state.

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.

The Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems will develop a plastic foam for use in U.S. buildings that is less expensive, mechanically stronger, and more environmentally friendly than current options. This foam will satisfy fire safety codes without the need for fire retardants and is easy to install.

The Institute for Market Transformation will partner with local chambers of commerce to help small business landlords and tenants improve the energy efficiency of their buildings. The Institute for Market Transformation will work with local chamber of commerce to audit 400 buildings.

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 University of Central Florida will demonstrate and validate energy-efficient residential ventilation and space conditioning systems. Advanced whole-house residential construction practices can achieve 50% energy savings compared to houses built to code in hot/humid climates.

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 Georgia Institute of Technology will support 20 student project teams in developing building energy efficiency technologies through a capstone design project. This effort will better prepare students for employment in the building energy efficiency sector. Additionally, the combined energy savings from these projects is estimated to add up to over 1.8 Quads per year.

The Virginia Tech Advanced Research Institute will develop a software platform that improves sensing and control of equipment in small and medium-sized commercial buildings. The platform will be able to optimize electricity usage to reduce energy consumption and help implement demand response.

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.