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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

Sunthru will establish the fabrication process variables (e.g., pressures and temperatures) for producing small scale samples with the RSCE method. These measurements will be used to establish the process variable to make 8'x8'x0.5' and 10'x10'x0.5' aerogel monoliths. The large scale monoliths will be used to construct prototype insulated glass units for testing Sunthru's ultimate product.

Vertex Companies investigated the commercial usefulness of LIPA tracer gas technology in providing a quantitative assessment of air distribution in buildings. The LIPA System's capability to track indoor to outdoor, within zone and between zone air distributions was also be evaluated. The use of the LIPA System as a real-time, quantitative instrumental detection with a hand-portable device was also confirmed.

The project effort is a two-year development program focused on isocyanurate-based nanofoam for building and industrial applications. The main target of this early stage innovation project is to develop a PIR-based super insulation at atmospheric pressure (SIAP) that (1) can attain an R-12 hrft2F/Btuin (_=12 mW/mK) via creating nanoporous morphology, (2) is mechanically robust and (3) is cost-competitive to the conventional rigid foam boards.

Newport Ventures will evaluate the potential to make metal buildings more energy efficient by researching the market for a high R-value vacuum insulation product adhered to metal wall or roof panels. Newport Ventures, NanoPore (a MAI manufacturer),and Oak Ridge National Laboratory will investigate promising applications and possible manufacturers identified by the Metal Buildings Manufacturer Association (MBMA) and other relevant industry associations across NYS. Research will be conducted with respect to the optimum profile of the metal panel, method and material for adhesion, edge and seam detailing, fastening method, and trim pieces.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory will develop a low-cost window coating that allows infrared (heat) penetration in cooler temperatures but switches to reflect infrared waves in warmer temperatures. This coating has the potential to save up to 2.24 quads/year in heating, cooling, and lighting energy use.

The project will produce a standardizable, transferable, climate zone-specific net zero energy ready retrofit system. This system will be tested at a multifamily affordable housing pilot site.

PPG Industries, Inc. will develop a process to produce cheaper, stronger vacuum insulating glazings (VIGs), which are used to make windows more energy efficient. This process could lead to increased adoption of VIGs in windows, which would lead to significant energy savings.

PPG Industries, Inc. will develop high-performing dark-colored pigments for use in cool roof coatings. These pigments would satisfy customers' demand for dark-colored cool roofs and lead to 0.17 quads of energy savings annually.

This project will develop, validate and quantify energy impacts of a new generation of high performance facade systems and provide the design and management toolkits that will enable the building industry to meet challenging energy performance goals leading to net zero buildings by 2030. Building envelope technologies can be integrated into a cost-effective system that reduces energy-use associated with HVAC and lighting while improving occupant comfort. Technology development activities include highly insulating (Hi-R) windows, energy recovery-based envelope ventilation systems, and dynamic daylight redirecting systems. Supporting tools, data, and design methods will also be developed to enable widespread, reliable, cost-effective deployment throughout California.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) has just completed extensive research to determine energy efficiency savings for storm windows. The goal of this project is to obtain residential and possible commercial Unit Energy Savings (UES) measure approval from the Regional Technical Forum (RTF) for interior and exterior low-e storm windows. This work will create the (Simplified Energy Enthalpy Model) SEEM workbook and ProCost model to inform regional savings and cost-effectiveness assumptions, presentation of these data to the RTF in collaboration with RTF staff, and associated documentation.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will integrate heat and moisture transfer analysis of building envelop performance into one modeling system by adding moisture transfer to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory'es THERM engine.

Home Innovation Research Labs, Inc. will develop wall system design guidance for builders and improve the durability of envelope assembly systems. Findings from this project could play a critical role in improving the efficiency of home heating and cooling and could reduce HVAC energy use by at least 10%.

Building Science Corporation and partners will evaluate the use of a vapor control membrane, or diffusion vent, which could substantially reduce the risk of moisture issues in roof assemblies with fibrous insulation. This project will field test this solution in a cold climate new construction test house over three years, and will also test the approach in a high impact existing home weatherization application to be determined through stakeholder engagement.

Iowa State University will develop an infiltration diagnostics system that uses a laser to locally heat a portion of the building envelope, and then uses an infrared camera to pinpoint air leaks. This system is able to measure and locate leaks within a building envelope, producing an energy saving potential of about 566 TBtu by 2030.

Alcoa will develop advanced aluminum window frame technology as well as a manufacturing process for energy-saving commercial window systems that use the technology. Use of these windows in new and existing commercial buildings would drive progress toward national energy savings goals.

The objective of the research is to test the energy performance and demand reduction capabilities of phase change material (PCM) in conditioned buildings at a USAR site. PCM is a substance used to increase the thermal mass of a building due to its ability to melt and solidify at certain temperatures, providing the capability to store and release large amounts of thermal energy. PCM works in conjunction with traditional insulation to decrease heat gain (or loss) by storing and releasing heat to the conditioned space at different times of the day

Oak Ridge National Laboratory will develop a thin insulation material that demonstrates comparable performance to existing insulation technology. ORNL estimates the energy savings potential of this insulation to be 1,319 TBtu for retrofit-only commercial roof and residential wall applications.

This project will explore reversible electroplating of metal and low-resistance transparent conductors with micro copper grids to develop low-cost dynamic windows with faster switching speeds.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, in partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory will develop insulation that is 2 to 4 times more efficient than conventional materials and at a comparable installed cost. This insulation technology has the potential of reaching an installed cost of $2.00 per square foot for R-12/inch and targets a technical potential of 1.7 quads.

Heating and cooling represents the greatest energy consumption in buildings. This agreement develops thermal building insulation material with high R-value at a cost competitive to conventional insulation materials. The expected result provides a significant increase in energy efficiency for retrofitting buildings.

Increasing the albedo (solar reflectance) of a building's envelope reduces solar heat gain in the cooling season. Raising envelope albedo can also cool the outside air, boosting energy savings and demand reduction by decreasing the air temperature difference across the building envelope. Lowering urban surface and air temperatures improves air quality by slowing the reactions that produce smog, and delays global warming through negative radiative forcing ("global cooling"). Current data are insufficient to accurately predict savings impacts for different cool wall materials; which prevents cool wall technology from being included in building standards or utility rebate programs.

Home Innovation Research Labs will establish performance criteria and conduct comprehensive testing to evaluate the structural performance of continuous insulation walls with windows of varying shapes and sizes, insulation thicknesses, and installation methods.

The objective of the research is to test the energy performance and demand reduction capabilities of the high-efficiency cellular shading devices and associated automated control strategies in the PNNL matched pair of laboratory homes. Tests outcomes will measure the cost-effective materials for existing homes. examine persistence of savings through Automated Operation of Dynamic Systems, and examine the benefits to of coordinating Cellular Shades with HVAC Demand-Response Events.

The objective of the research is to test the energy performance and demand reduction capabilities of the high-efficiency cellular shading devices and associated automated control strategies in the PNNL matched pair of laboratory homes. BPA funded the final report for phase 1 of this study. Completion of the final report supported the TIP 392 project.

This project involved researching the feasibility of commercial "humidity sponges", which could help even out daily and multi-day fluctuations of relative humidity in building spaces. This proof of concept study investigated the wicking and water vapor transfer properties of several materials, in addition to the topology and material properties of the structures termites use to manage humidity in their colonies. The project completed with a market analysis, in order to better understand the marketplace for passive or transient building controls in the energy-efficient dehumidification market space.

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.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory will develop high-performing vacuum insulation for use on installed windows. This technology could offer an alternative to replacing existing windows with highly insulting windows and save 2 - 3 quads of energy annually.

The goal is to develop a minimally invasive retrofit insulation technology for enclosed roof cavities such as cathedral ceilings, flat roofs, and dormer roofs.