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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

SU will develop a single-stage air filtration technology for particle and gaseous pollutant removal. The work will determine the proper mixture ratio of hybrid sorbent media according to the pollutants in the air streams. The attachment method and size of activated sorbent powders to be applied on the fiber of a particle filter will be studied. SU will evaluate the effects of operational environmental conditions (including temperature, humidity, and airflow conditions) on the combinatorial filter removal efficiency and service life.

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.

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.

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 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

The University of Maryland will develop the next generation air-to-refrigerant heat exchangers using non-round tubes that are 25% smaller, 25% lighter and 30% reduced charge than state-of-the-art heat exchangers.

Advanced Climate Technologies (ACT) is a manufacturer of fully automatic, high-efficiency, low-emission biomass-fired boilers, interested in expanding their manufacturing facility in Niskayuna, NY to include an automated manufacturing system. This project involves the design, purchase, installation, and commissioning of the automated manufacturing system. The automated manufacturing system will allow ACT to process raw steel into prepared components. This will include a state-of-the art multi-tiered automated process that will allow for the cutting, drilling, and nesting of ASME steel plate used for the vessel and component parts of the boiler. By increasing their manufacturing capabilities, the ACT will bring processes in-house that have thus far been subcontracted. This project will eliminate certain inefficiencies in the manufacturing value chain and reduce total manufacturing time for product improvement, cost, and waste. The cost savings will be passed to consumers, directly benefiting the biomass heating market and customers in NY.

UoR shall evaluate a new manufacturing process for producing lower cost superwicking materials. The wicking performance of the material produced with the new manufacturing process will be tested and compared to a wicking material produced using a laser surfacing technique.

This project will develop a next-generation residential space-conditioning system optimized for California climates. The advanced efficiency solutions integrated into the HVAC system will include: variable-capacity compressor and variable-speed fans using state-of-the-art inverter technology; integrated ventilation to harness fresh air for "free cooling;" intelligent dual-fuel technology to decrease energy cost and empower consumers to choose between electricity and natural gas; zonal control to prevent conditioning of unoccupied rooms; demand-response interactivity to grid flexibility and reliability; advanced fault detection and diagnostics to ensure proper installation, operation, and maintenance; and alternative refrigerants for improved operation and significant reductions in the potential for global warming. How the Project Lead

The project will seek to develop a residential and commercial logwood-fired boiler with the ability to modulate firing rates down to

The goal of this project is to develop laboratory test methods for performance verification of low-cost IAQ sensors and provide technical support to industry stakeholders during the development of an ASTM standard based on these test methods.

Hudson Fisonic will develop, design, manufacture, and install FDs for space heating and domestic hot water at the Woolworth building (57 stories, 900k ft2). The performance of the FD will be monitored for 12 months to determine the steam and potable water savings from use of this technology. Hudson Fisonic will start the commercialization of the FD technology by engaging the manufacturer - Division LLC Corporation, located in Long Island City, New York, in fabricating and preparing the necessary facilities and equipment for commercial manufacturing of FDs

Newport Partners, in partnership with Broan-NuTone, will develop and validate a smart range hood that senses pollutants and automatically operates to remove the contaminants efficiently. The proposed smart range hood will be quiet (

Multifamily (MF) is hugely underserved in Residential energy efficiency (EE) Programs and part of our MF ductless heat pump (DHP) strategy is to look at different MF use cases and identify which MF use cases provide a higher EE potential. So far DHP results in MF are mixed and this project will assess the energy use and savings of ductless heat pumps in mid-rise MF buildings. This study offers a unique opportunity for a side by side comparison of heat pumps and electric resistance heat within a single apartment building with 278 apartments. The project would collect billing data on all the individual units, conduct an analysis to disaggregate heating, cooling, and baseload energy use, and compare the two types of heating systems.

Seven alternative ductless heat pump (DHP) solutions were identified during the 2014 Washington State University (WSU) Assessment Study, including multiple internal heads, ducting between rooms, etc. Two solutions were recommended for further research. Technology and research plans need to be developed for these alternatives. Research plans will need to be developed for this project.

The project is designed to test the ductless heat pump (DHP) in different applications. Fifty-one sites were installed to test different applications including single family, multifamily, manufactured homes , and small commercial across different climate zones. As part of the study, one year of data was collected through sub metering; and pre- and post-billing data were completed and analyzed for each site. Preliminary results have been promising for manufactured homes and single family homes with forced air furnace applications. The study was completed during the spring of 2013. Based on the findings of the study, Single Family and Manufactured Home applications provided sufficient energy savings to warrant presentation to the Regional Technical Forum as new measures in 2015. Both were given a provisional UES (deemed) measure status. DHPs in Manufactured Homes with zonal heat were given a Small Saver measure status.

The 7th Power Plan has targeted 261aMWs of savings for embedded data centers and BPA would like to develop a series of new measures to acquire these savings. Embedded Data Centers are defined as server rooms located on-site in commercial buildings which are larger than server closets but smaller than enterprise data centers. This project will inform and streamline custom projects for future Data Center Air Flow Management retrofits which may include multiple data center HVAC retrofits, including blanking panels, raising space temperatures, containment and air flow management. Up to two grants will be awarded to participate in this field study to test Data Center Air Flow Management retrofits and other HVAC solutions for Embedded Data Centers. This field study will also demonstrate and verify a Data Center Air Flow Management (AFM) energy savings calculator developed by Seattle City Light in the Data Center Track and Tune Project.

This project will develop and demonstrate innovative pre-commercial, cost-effective retrofit packages for cooling and ventilating single family homes. Energy savings, occupant behavior and indoor air quality (IAQ) will be measured for two specific retrofit packages that each includes three innovative technologies: (1) building envelope sealing, (2) two variants of smart mechanical ventilation that include pre-cooling strategies, and (3) compressor-free evaporative air-conditioning. Furthermore, barriers and opportunities towards adoption of such retrofits will be identified through stakeholder interviews.

This project will develop and demonstrate innovative pre-commercial, cost-effective retrofit packages for cooling and ventilating single family homes. Energy savings, occupant behavior and indoor air quality (IAQ) will be measured for two specific retrofit packages that each includes three innovative technologies: (1) building envelope sealing, (2) two variants of smart mechanical ventilation that include pre-cooling strategies, and (3) compressor-free evaporative air-conditioning. Furthermore, barriers and opportunities towards adoption of such retrofits will be identified through stakeholder interviews.

This project will apply the framework created in the prior research to develop early deployment plans for three additional technologies and to guide early deployments with multiple utilities for five technologies, two of which were planned in prior research. The three technologies being deployed are heat pump water heaters, led menu boards, and engine generator block heaters.

SWA will evaluate the opportunities, savings potential, and limitations of ccASHPs in New York State homes. Improved energy modeling techniques will be developed for various tools. Guidelines will be developed describing ccASHP opportunities in NYS homes, including operating costs, installed costs, climate-dependent factors, low-temperature limitations, integration issues and possible limitations. Guidelines will also be developed for energy modelers to help accurately predict ccASHP performance with common modeling tools.

This project will study selected software and hardware platforms that apply algorithms to identify, diagnose, and sometimes fix broken electric cooling, ventilation and refrigeration systems in buildings. If widely used, the fault detection and diagnosis tools validated in this project could have savings of 927 Tbtu per year.

Commercial HVAC Efficient Pumping Technology has been identified by BPA as having significant electrical energy savings potential. Grants will be awarded to BPA customer utilities to test CHEP installation for Commercial, Agricultural and Industrial applications. Pump retrofits include integrated, variable-speed HVAC system pumps ranging in size between 1/3 and 10 horse power with controls. To date, three utilities have requested financial assistance for installations. The units will be installed in 2017 and utilities will provide reports within one year to report on system performance and present information on potential market barriers.

The goal of this grant is to share the cost for the design, installation, and commissioning to replace Roof Top Units (RTU) with Heat Recovery Ventilation (HRV) and Variable Capacity Heat Pump (VCHP) systems. In 2016, Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) identified this potential RTU replacement strategy to help meet the regions energy efficiency targets and conducted a proof of concept study for this new replacement system. NEEAs preliminary analysis estimates that an HRV and VC HP system could be combined to save over seventy percent of the energy used by RTUs. BPA is interested in obtaining field data for additional systems in the Pacific Northwest. The expected results from this project include the following: HRV and VC HP system cost effectiveness information; System performance data; Verification that whole-building billing analysis is an adequate methodology to measure savings, and Identification of best practices for installation and commissioning based on feedback from the owner, utility, designer, contractor and occupants.

The project includes feasibility and design studies followed by demonstration of a large central reverse cycle chiller (RCC) or heat pump water heaters for energy efficient production of domestic hot water in multifamily residential projects. Feasibility and design studies were completed in 2010. The first installation was completed in November 2012; a second installation was completed in the Spring 2013. The next phase of the project will include measurement and verification of energy savings. The project will conclude with a final report of lessons learned and recommendations for future applications of this technology. This project will look to answer the following research question: quantify the energy savings using a large heat pump water heater (or called RCC) vs. electric resistance domestic hot water in a multifamily (MF) application to prove the concept, and understand technical challenges and whether this is a good technology for multifamily sector.

Ducted mini-splits are currently available for single family applications. Research is required to determine if these units will be more efficient than the traditional ductless heat pumps (DHPs) with back up resistance heating. If the lab test shows that Ducted mini splits provide more sufficient savings then a field test will be implemented.

BPA funded a small field test through NEEA to understand if DHPs could be installed by owners to reduce installation costs to improve cost effectiveness. NEEA received funding to track the 4 installations. There were key learnings from each installation which were documented to share with the region. Preliminary results were reported earlier this year to members of the BPA and NEEA by Ecotope who managed the installations.

This project is developing a gas-fired absorption heat pump that offers a significant advancement for space and water heating technologies when compared to conventional gas heating technologies (an Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) of 140% versus 100%, respectively). This heat pump will provide efficient space and water heating for single and multi-family homes in most climate zones.

In 2013, BPA received an unsolicited proposal for a case study for a side-by-side comparison of a geothermal heat pump and variable refrigerant flow (VRF) system in nearly identical multifamily housing units in Tacoma, Washington. The project provided a unique opportunity to evaluate these two technologies while providing an application for multifamily housing. The project will determine how the seasonal performance of the two systems for space conditioning and production of hot water compares. The following information will be provided for the operation of both units: quantified savings and costs over a specific baseline; understanding of the engineering design, installation, ownership, and possible utility barriers; quantified annual energy savings, benefits, and costs; documented magnitude and longevity of the incremental electric energy savings; documented operation and energy use; and described energy savings time of occurrence and duration, load shape, and lifetime.

United Technologies Research Center will demonstrate a compressor design that will enable high-efficiency small commercial rooftop air conditioning systems. This technology could provide 30% annual energy savings and reduce energy use by 2.5 quads by 2030.

United Technologies Research Center will develop a high-performance commercial cold climate heat pump system. The system could enable annual electricity use for building space heating in cold climates to decrease by at least 25%.

United Technologies Research Center will demonstrate a heat pump that is smaller, quieter, and cheaper to maintain than current models. The heat pump could result in annual energy savings of more than 1.5 quads and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 60 million metric tons.

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