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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.

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

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.

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%.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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 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 seeks to conduct the technical analyses, demonstration, market evaluation, and regulatory engagement necessary to realize cost-effective high-accuracy measurement and verification (M&V) for northwest efficiency programs. The focus of the effort is whole-building M&V for commercial buildings.

The Lighting Research Center (LRC) of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute will work with the Lighting Design Lab at Seattle City Light (SCL), a leading manufacturer of LED outdoor lighting and a leading controls manufacturer to demonstrate a sensor-controlled, adaptable LED lighting system in the parking lots for municipal, retail, or similar parking lot.

The recipient will develop low-cost lighting components with open communication interfaces that allow seamless integration into whole-building control and automation systems. The project will target future California Building Energy Efficiency Standards (Title 24), and establish methods by which the site-specific configuration and operation of networked lighting controls systems can be effectively addressed, and more easily implemented by the marketplace

CNSE and EYP Architecture and Engineering will evaluate the energy and demand benefits from smart controls that integrate various systems to enable more holistic operation of a building. The systems to be controlled include digital addressable LED lighting system with day-lighting controls, automated window covering system, occupancy RFID tracking system, submetered energy monitoring and utility meter data, PLC-based HVAC controls, fuel cell, PV array and task lighting.

This project is intended to inform both utilities and the public of the potential energy saving benefits of smart thermostats. For utilities, it may provide a measure of how these thermostats fit into their programs and how customers use them to enable energy or demand savings. Utilities will get an opportunity to gauge cost-effectiveness of energy efficiency programs for smart thermostats. Demand response from residential air-conditioners has been a target of many utility programs, but the cost of installation of load control devices and the resulting perceived compromise in customer comfort have been large barriers.

The University of California-Berkeley and its partner, Building Robotics, will create, evaluate and establish the technical foundations for secure and easy to deploy building energy efficiency applications utilizing pervasive, low-cost wireless sensors integrated with traditional Building Management Systems (BMS), consumer-sector building components, personalized smartphone devices, and powerful data analytics.

Carnegie Mellon University will design, implement, and evaluate a human-in-the-loop sensing and control system for energy efficiency of heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC), and lighting systems based on a novel occupancy sensor. Through occupant sensing and real-time data collection, this project will reduce energy waste, targeting a 20% energy savings, while increasing occupant comfort by accurately estimating occupants in an area to overcome current HVAC system operations.

The project will study the integration trade-offs, cost and energy optimization of daylighting, LED electric lighting, plug load sensors and zonal air plow controls. If widely adopted, the integrated controls package in this project could have savings up to 750 Tbtu per year.

This project studies the synergistic interactions of daylighting, plug controls, automated fault detection and diagnostics (AFDD) and HVAC optimization. If widely used, the package of daylighting techniques, plug loads, AFDD and controls for HVAC systems validated in this project could have savings of 756 Tbtu per year.

This project will develop a low cost smart thermostat unit that will have simple user interface. Though the test sites are low-income and senior housing, this technology could be adapted to other residential sectors. The smart thermostat will understand user preferences and manage indoor conditions to optimize energy use without requiring internet connectivity. HVAC energy use can be traced to three factors: losses in the ducting system, substandard equipment efficiency and occupant settings. Low income households are mostly renters which makes changes to the duct system or HVAC unit not feasible. By providing automatically optimized thermostat settings this project will determine if smart thermostats are a cost effective method to address HVAC energy use in the low-income and senior housing sectors.

The project team is demonstrating and validating new retrofit package solutions from laboratory pre-testing through field demonstrations in existing government-owned commercial buildings. The solution sets, dubbed "INTER", are comprised of shading products from Rollease Acmeda and lighting and plug load systems and integrated controls, including HVAC systems, from Enlighted. The technologies can be combined and customized to suit a variety of building types and spaces, resulting in an estimated whole building energy reduction of 20 to 32 percent. Beginning in the Los Angeles basin, the team is leveraging existing market connections to increase and accelerate market adoption of these retrofit solution sets to maximize the potential energy and carbon savings, first in the region and ultimately, throughout California.

The Lighting Research Center (LRC) will conduct pilot testing and analysis of three selected control systems to independently verify system commissioning, operation, and compatibility with two different integral LED luminaire layouts. The LRC will also quantify system operational characteristics, commissioning, and energy savings under field conditions. To begin the project, the LRC will specify a lighting control system capable of operating four integral LED suspended luminaires. The controls manufacturers selected will be CREE, Wattstopper, and Lutron. The LRC will also order eight integral LED luminaires (four luminaires from CREE Lighting with 0-10V drivers and step-dimming drivers that are used with the fixture integrated lighting sensors and four from Lithonia Lighting with 0-10V drivers). Six luminaire control system combinations will be evaluated in this project.

PARC, A Xerox Company, in partnership with Energy ETC Inc., will develop a wireless system of peel-and-stick sensor nodes that are powered by radio frequency hubs, relaying data to building management systems that can significantly reduce energy use. The wireless sensors and radio frequency hubs provide an opportunity to increase building energy efficiency by gathering and compiling data needed for building management.

This project will test an Integrated Building Control Package that maximizes energy efficiency for existing commercial buildings. The project will refine novel control algorithms that utilize shared device state and environmental data for lighting, fenestration and heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. Sharing and considering data from multiple device types will further improve overall, sustained, system performance and operation. Control algorithms will prioritize lighting or heating/cooling savings based on climate and building design. HVAC system management will leverage passive ventilatio

This project will test an Integrated Building Control Package that maximizes energy efficiency for existing commercial buildings. The project will refine novel control algorithms that utilize shared device state and environmental data for lighting, fenestration and heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. Sharing and considering data from multiple device types will further improve overall, sustained, system performance and operation. Control algorithms will prioritize lighting or heating/cooling savings based on climate and building design. HVAC system management will leverage passive ventilatio

The proposal will design, develop, and pilot an Intelligent Connected aggregator platform beginning with selected Residential Connected Smart Thermostats. The objective will be to develop and test a connected device platform that can provide a PNW regional infrastructure to simultaneously manage smart thermostats and other connected devices.

Smart Residential Thermostats Pilot with Franklin PUD. In partnership with Franklin PUD, BPA is conducting a Nest Learning ThermostatTM field pilot study. One hundred seventy three (173) thermostats were installed with the goal of evaluating the thermostats ability to control Residential Air Source Heat Pump operation and realize electricity savings through a pre/post utility billing regressions analysis study. Metering devices were installed in 9 homes to better understand how the Nest Thermostats control the heat pump systems and how people are interacting with these devices. Study results will be available mid year 2016.

Will proven strategies from residential behavioral programs provide savings in a small commercial application? Snohomish County Public Utility District's pilot will test behavior change in the commercial sector. A solution for this sector would be highly attractive to utilities with small commercial facility end users, which represent a significant untapped energy savings resource with unique barriers to participation in behavior change programs. The pilot project is a joint venture between Snohomish County Public Utility District, PECI, Lucid, and Starbucks. The pilot will be implemented at several Puget Sound area Starbucks stores and involves providing staff with frequent energy use data and between-store competitions. If successful, the approach could be scaled to similar facilities across the region. Starbucks has over 700 stores in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. Improvement on previous work: Very little work has been done in the small commercial arena and no pilots have been done with a large chain, such as Starbucks.

This data gathering and analysis project will develop reliable estimates of energy savings for Networked Lighting Controls (NLC) project and on a larger scale, accelerate the deployment and market adoption of NLC in Commercial Buildings. Advanced Lighting Controls has significant potential to accelerate LED lighting adoption. In a recent study by LBNL, multiple lighting control strategies saved an average of 38% of energy savings. However, market adoption on NLC/Advance Lighting Controls is estimated to be less then 1%. This project is designed to help BPA determine appropriate program designs, incentives, training and Qualified Products to increase deployment of NLC. The project will request data from several utilities including BPA about energy savings achieved in recent projects. BPA is partnering with Efficiency Forward (formerly DLC) to complete this project.

This project will develop a technique to automatically construct new contextual information for sensing and control points based on point names and the raw time series value. This will allow for integration and connectivity from building analytics engines to commercial building management systems with minimal or no manual point mapping.

Case Western Reserve University will design and demonstrate low-cost, compact, easy-to-deploy, maintenance-free sensors that will transform buildings into "smart" buildings. This technology has the potential to reduce building energy use, lower buildings' environmental impact, and increase building occupant comfort, all at a low cost.

The Minnesota Center for Energy and Environment will research and validate energy and cost savings opportunities using power over Ethernet (PoE) infrastructure to power and automate lighting, plugs, and HVAC system controls.

This project will develop low-cost, low power, accurate, calibration-free, and compact airflow sensors (anemometers) for measuring: (1) room airflow in occupied commercial buildings; and (2) volumetric air flow in heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. The technology will save energy by using the collected data to correct current wasteful HVAC malfunctions that result in inefficient systems and uncomfortable buildings. The anemometers will be wireless, able to be inexpensively installed in existing buildings, and operate on a battery for years and communicate wirelessly via the internet to the building's control system. The device will also sense temperature, its orientation, and its location

This project will develop low-cost, low power, accurate, calibration-free, and compact airflow sensors (anemometers) for measuring: (1) room airflow in occupied commercial buildings; and (2) volumetric air flow in heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. The technology will save energy by using the collected data to correct current wasteful HVAC malfunctions that result in inefficient systems and uncomfortable buildings. The anemometers will be wireless, able to be inexpensively installed in existing buildings, and operate on a battery for years and communicate wirelessly via the internet to the building's control system. The device will also sense temperature, its orientation, and its location

Drexel University will develop an innovative and cost-effective automated fault detection and diagnostics tool that better identifies issues related to building energy use. This project is expected to impact a total energy market of 7,306 TBTU, with projected national energy savings of 1,096 TBTU with a simple payback time per installation of less than 1 year.

This federal cost share project demonstrates the benefits of the VOLTTRON platform for DER management through the testing of the VOLTTRON Testing Tool Kit. VOLTTRON is a US Department of Energy funded open source platform intended to provide a software base for integrating management of energy demand in buildings, distributed energy resources, and the electrical grid. The tool kit expands the VOLTTRON platform beyond its original set of developers and encourages adoption by other organizations and private entities. By lowering implementation costs and adding additional features such as simulation test suites and debugging tools, the tool kit promotes wider use of the VOLTTRON platform.