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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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

SWA will work with NYCHA to identify a subset of building typologies that represent its broader portfolio and are also relevant to other NY housing stocks. SWA will assess the representative properties and identify pathways for achieving DERs. SWA will review existing physical needs assessments plans (PNA) and meet with the NYCHA capital planning team to understand the existing long term capital needs and approach to capital planning. SWA will develop potential long term plans for each building typology to realize deep energy reductions that build on existing capital plans and needs.

This project will research DC and AC-DC hybrid systems in buildings and develop resource information, end-use templates, and building guidelines that could improve the ability to achieve zero net energy buildings. The feasibility, costs, benefits, market barriers, and customer and education needs will be assessed, including guidelines for residential and small commercial buildings.

This project will contain three elements to provide data for policymakers and businesses to explore this new market. First, this project will determine prosumer (proactive consumer) interest in a third-party demand response market by testing user acquisition via direct and non-direct engagement strategies. Second, experimentation with behavioral and automated users will allow analysis of user yield under a variety of conditions and extract a set of shadow curves that can inform how much energy load shifting can be expected under various price incentives. Finally, this project will create a novel solution for using residential telemetry to connect prosumers and their Internet of Things (IoT) devices to the market operators.

This project will contain three elements to provide data for policymakers and businesses to explore this new market. First, this project will determine prosumer (proactive consumer) interest in a third-party demand response market by testing user acquisition via direct and non-direct engagement strategies. Second, experimentation with behavioral and automated users will allow analysis of user yield under a variety of conditions and extract a set of shadow curves that can inform how much energy load shifting can be expected under various price incentives. Finally, this project will create a novel solution for using residential telemetry to connect prosumers and their Internet of Things (IoT) devices to the market operators.

FXFOWLE Architects will undertake a research study to determine the viability of implementing the Passivhaus standard on tall residential buildings in New York State. Using a 25 story multifamily project currently in design as a base building, the study will investigate the detailed implications of adapting a typical tall residential building to meet the Passivhaus standard. This work will analyze the impacts from architectural, structural, enclosure detailing, materials, mechanical, zoning, financial, marketability, and constructability perspectives. Market barriers and opportunities will be identified and addressed. In addition, the study will evaluate how applying the Passivhaus standard to a tall multifamily residential building can affect resiliency and security issues

Evidence in a new, groundbreaking Energy Department report, Home Rx: The Health Benefits of Home Performance, shows that home performance upgrades can improve the quality of a homes indoor environment by reducing the prevalence of harmful indoor air pollutants and contaminants. This paper is just one part of the Energy Departments broader Health and Home Performance Initiative. Another step will be to develop messaging that home performance programs, contractors, and partners can use to communicate clearly about the health benefits of home performance work with consumers and stakeholders.

The next step for the Initiative will be to engage with stakeholders to develop a roadmap to facilitate the home performance industrys incorporation of healthcare into their work. Workshops are slated for conferences in January, March, and May 2017.

The Healthy Homes Accelerator aims to better integrate healthy housing principles and practices in energy retrofits and new home construction; and support the creation of local partnerships between key stakeholders that are aimed at overcoming barriers to incorporating enhanced health measures in buildings.

This project will demonstrate the installation of innovative technologies to retrofit an existing, low-income, mixed-use multi-unit building in a dense urban setting to become zero net energy (ZNE). Innovative strategies include a rapid new technology discovery and assessment approach, to ensure the most current emerging technologies are incorporated, as well as innovative measurement and verification. These approaches and other ZNE design process innovations will be packaged into an advanced ZNE design methodology for use in the demonstration project as well as broad dissemination to the design and innovation community. Numerous technical innovations and pre-commercial technologies are planned for inclusion including dynamic chromatic glass, heat recovery ventilators, variable refrigerant flow, occupancy based plug-load management, advanced light emitting diode lighting systems and a combined photovoltaic-thermal system.

This project will demonstrate the installation of innovative technologies to retrofit an existing, low-income, mixed-use multi-unit building in a dense urban setting to become zero net energy (ZNE). Innovative strategies include a rapid new technology discovery and assessment approach, to ensure the most current emerging technologies are incorporated, as well as innovative measurement and verification. These approaches and other ZNE design process innovations will be packaged into an advanced ZNE design methodology for use in the demonstration project as well as broad dissemination to the design and innovation community. Numerous technical innovations and pre-commercial technologies are planned for inclusion including dynamic chromatic glass, heat recovery ventilators, variable refrigerant flow, occupancy based plug-load management, advanced light emitting diode lighting systems and a combined photovoltaic-thermal system.

Ecotope, Inc. will conduct energy code field studies in Washington, Oregon, Minnesota, and Illinois to measure the impact of energy codes on multifamily buildings, and identify opportunities for savings through increased compliance.

Maryland Energy Administration 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.

BPA is seeking to expand multifamily energy efficiency incentive offerings for new and existing construction. The goal is to identify and work out the technical challenges associated with integrating technologies into multifamily buildings. Part of the BPA new multifamily program development work requires building energy modeling comparing multifamily buildings built to Washington State code versus DOE Zero Energy Ready (DOEZER) standards. The project will assess the low-rise multifamily DOE ZER program against the 2015 Washington State Energy Code (WSEC) to coordinate the DOE ZER modeling for a target home; and model DOE ZER specifications using SEEM and compare the results to existing 2015 WSEC energy use analysis. Energy savings will be summarized and included in a report describing the analysis methodology, DOEZER and WSEC modeling specifications and the above code savings using one set of target measures.

Design guidelines have helped accelerate the deployment strategies for central hot water systems in multifamily buildings through the Pacific Northwest. This project will deliver two design guidelines for multifamily hot water recirculation loops and central heat pump hot water systems for future use by architects, engineers, contractors and developers by distilling the best practices and findings from recently completed research. Each guideline will present the operating principles, recommended design choices, and give examples where appropriate.

Appalachian State University 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.

The recipient will use EnergyPlus, a building energy modeling tool, to analyze the costeffectiveness of various electricity saving/generation measures for multifamily and commercial buildings in California. For each building type and climate zone, the results will include a cost-benefit analysis for each measure individually and for an optimized package of measures that reduces net electricity consumption to achieve as close to zero net energy as is cost-effectively possible.

The recipient will use EnergyPlus, a building energy modeling tool, to analyze the costeffectiveness of various electricity saving/generation measures for multifamily and commercial buildings in California. For each building type and climate zone, the results will include a cost-benefit analysis for each measure individually and for an optimized package of measures that reduces net electricity consumption to achieve as close to zero net energy as is cost-effectively possible.

Performance Systems Development 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.

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 National Renewable Energy Laboratory will work to significantly increase the capability, cost effectiveness, openness, and reach of the Residential Buildings Integration (RBI) programs tools and analysis methods to accelerate the adoption of zero energy ready homes.

International Center for Appropriate and Sustainable Technology will expand its one-stop-shop model to address the Small Commercial Apartment Property market with deeper retrofit. Using the model is expected to cut energy use by 20-30% in small commercial apartment properties, reduce individual building utility bills by $3,100 annually, and create 200 jobs.

This project researched new phase change materials (PCM) to store thermal energy for wall assemblies, and develop associated software tools. Heat is absorbed or released when the materials change from solid to liquid or vice versa. PCMs absorb thermal energy and they can reduce the need for heating and cooling in some buildings. Their impact is similar to that of adding thermal mass to the building. Unlike air conditioning systems, they require no maintenance. The use of PCMs and associated software tools can contribute to zero net energy commercial buildings by reducing the energy needs of a building through passive design.