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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.

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.

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 renewable-based direct current (DC) microgrid will connect on-site generation with loads and provide a low cost, energy-efficient solution to save costs. Solar PV will be directly connected to energy-efficient DC lighting, DC energy storage systems, and ventilation on a 380 V DC bus to form a DC building microgrid. This microgrid system proposed for the Honda Distribution Center in Chino, California reduces the need for inverters for PV and rectification equipment in the loads, thus improving the overall utilization of solar energy by 7-10% as compared to conventional AC systems, while lowering component complexity and costs.

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.

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.

This project deploys APMD technology over a large sample size, at approximately 55,000 computer workstations at several Community Colleges, and focuses on integrating the technology with facility operations to ensure that they meet the needs of the sites and staff. Key features of the proposed project include outreach and individual education programs to California Community College Districts, evaluation of sites for participation in the project, purchase and installation of APMDs at approved sites, measurement and verification (M&V) activities both pre- and post-APMD implementation at the selected demonstration sites, and stakeholder satisfaction information from demonstration facilities staff and APMD end-users through interviews and surveys.

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.

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 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.

The Automated Cloud-based Continuously Optimizing Building Energy Management System (ACCO-BEMS) overcomes limitations of existing energy management systems by automating optimized control of building systems and devices. The technology overcomes limitations of existing energy management systems and eliminates the need for expensive reprogramming needed to implement optimization measures. As such, the technology can co-exist with existing systems in retrofit applications, or it can be implemented as a new installation.

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 project will develop test procedures for alternative refrigerants for flammability and energy savings characterization and to develop a “favorability” index of end-use market segments and equipment types based on potential GHG savings impact and commercial feasibility and adoption.

This project optimizes and simplifies control upgrades to demonstrate energy savings while improving occupant comfort. This demonstration uses automated fault detection and diagnostics and continuous commissioning with the use of advanced measurement and verification procedures. The agreement includes recommendations for strategies, tools, and initiatives to address market barriers and promote large scale market adoption.

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.

The researchers developed long-term energy scenarios for California that comply with GHG emission targets and goals. The scenarios provide new insights about technology options and by when some of this options should be implemented.

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 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.

The City of Seattle will engage with building owners, managers, and service providers to develop market expertise to train local building operations professionals to more effectively tune-up existing buildings, which could reduce city energy costs by $1.5 million annually. Professionals will tune-up 70-80 buildings with 10-20% energy savings, and complete capital retrofits to 20-30 buildings providing 35% energy savings, for a total of 1 billion kBtu annual savings.

This project demonstrates three innovative bundles of pre-commercial technologies. The technology bundles were strategically developed through a systems-level approach to address the most energy-intensive areas in commercial buildings. These include: (1) Chilled Water Plants: Optimized all-variable-speed chilled-water (CHW) plants utilizing alternative refrigerant chillers. (2) Office and Exterior Space LED fixtures with integrated advanced controls, advanced building management system (BMS), and plug load controls controllable for demand response (DR), and off-grid, exterior, LED lighting in the parking lot, and lastly (3) Advanced laboratory ventilation, fume hood exhaust, and direct current (DC) lighting systems.

This research will examine several high aspect ratio (15:1) cylinders, (smooth, roughened and grooved) in a wind tunnel test that specifically measures dynamic response to simulated boundary layer flow. Both along- and cross-wind response will be measured for a range of wind speeds to determine the nature of the loading and in particular the effect of the grooves on the loading and axial wind speeds. This will provide the necessary data to develop a full proposal to study the bio-mimicry aspects of this work to the aerodynamics of tall buildings.

The Window Covering Manufacturing Association will create the Attachments Energy Rating Council to develop an independent rating, certification, labeling, and performance verification program for window attachments. This program will help drive market penetration of energy-saving products and further innovation in the industry.

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

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.

This project takes a different approach to achieving white electroluminescence, which involves the use of a combination of fluorescent and phosphorescent emitters. These hybrid fluorescent/phosphorescent WOLEDs will give markedly improved cell efficacy and lifetime.

The Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships will demonstrate advanced lighting controls (ALCs), which turn off or dim lights when they are not in use, in 10 buildings in order to address barriers to ALC adoption. Installing ALC systems in all commercial buildings would save approximately 1,053 TBtu of energy or $10.4 billion/year.

The Institute for Market Transformation (IMT) will conduct energy code field studies in Florida, Nebraska, Iowa, and Nevada to measure the impact of energy codes on commercial building energy efficiency, and identify opportunities for savings through increased compliance.

Maryland Energy and Sensor Technologies, LLC will develop a compact, high-efficiency thermoelastic cooling system. This next-generation HVAC technology will have low environmental impact and a small carbon footprint and could lead to substantial efficiency gains in building heating and cooling.

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.

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.

NextEnergywill reduce market barriers to adoption of lighting controls solution to spur market adoption. This will be achieved through demonstrations, consumer education, and utility incentive adjustment. NextEnergy and partners will train over 100 contractors in advanced lighting controls and simplified installation methods and develop a model for streamlined incentives for lighting controls.

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