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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.

S-RAM Dynamics, LLC will develop a regenerative air source heat pump for commercial and industrial HVAC applications. Initial units of this heat pump could offer a 50% improvement over existing state-of-the-art technology, leading to substantial energy-use reductions.

Los Alamos National Laboratory will develop quantum-dot down-converters to be used in LED lighting. Advancements made in this project could drive further efficiency improvements in LED lighting.

Momentive will develop next-generation LED package architectures enabled by thermally conductive composite encapsulant materials. These LED package architectures could provide more-efficient lighting options for use in U.S. buildings.

Perform NEEA Residential Building Stock Assessment (RBSA) Home data conversion to appliance control scripting via LabVIEW (http://www.ni.com/labview/) to provide an ongoing nonintrusive load monitoring (NILM) technology evaluation platform coupled with better appliance efficiency testing capability.

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.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory will develop and demonstrate a cost-effective, energy-efficient clothes dryer that is based on thermoelectric technology. This transformative dryer technology has the potential to save 356 TBtu/year.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in partnership with Georgia Tech and IntelliChoice Energy, will integrate its Ground-Level Integrated Diverse Energy Storage (GLIDES) system with HVAC systems to provide efficient building-integrated electrical and thermal energy storage. This system enables smarter building-grid integration, as well as the use of low-grade heat, which would otherwise be lost in traditional HVAC systems.

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.

This project will develop and test the efficacy of novel light-based circadian interventions for enhancing sleep, health, alertness, performance, and quality of life in nightshift workers.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory will develop a novel magnetocaloric air conditioner with the potential for efficiency improvements of up to 25% over conventional vapor compression systems. This new technology could save the U.S. 1 quad annually.

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.

Carnegie Mellon University will develop an improved phosphor matrix to include materials that increase the thermal conductivity more than 5 times over standard matrix materials. This technology could reduce the price of light by as much as 50% - 60%.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory will develop a clothes dryer that is extremely energy efficient and has a load drying time of approximately 20 minutes. This technology has the potential to revolutionize the clothes dryer industry, as well as to achieve 0.4 quads of energy savings.

Acuity Brands Lighting will develop an OLED luminaire that features DC current drivers integrated with each panel and advanced user controls. This advancement in OLED technology could lead to more-efficient OLED lighting systems and reduced energy use for building lighting.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, along with its partners, will develop a platform for design and specification of HVAC control sequences that inter-operates with both whole-building energy simulation and automated control implementation workflows. OpenBuildingControl will unify control design, evaluation, and optimization via whole-building energy simulation with control implementation, eliminating the manual translation steps currently associated with HVAC control implementation, reducing both error as well as effort and cost.

The OEI will capitalize on existing DOE investments to create an integrated open source technology platformthe OpenEfficiency Platform (OEP)capable of supporting a range of energy efficiency program types. Working closely with a group of utility program administrators, the OEI will support the design, planning, and use of the OEP in a series of commercial pilot programs for whole building energy efficiency, local government benchmarking, and auditing.

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.

This project will develop new practical design and operation tools for radiant cooling and heating systems in order to provide a standardized guidance for radiant systems. The approach will include a combination of fundamental full-scale laboratory experiments, whole-building simulations, development of simplified models for radiant system controls, validation of these new methods in field studies, occupant satisfaction surveys, and an update to Title-24 for radiant systems. The project outcomes will include 1) a simplified tool for calculating the cooling load and cooling capacity of a radiant slab system, including calculation methods with significant direct solar radiation, 2) a simplified online operational tool for radiant slab systems, and 3) updates to the Title 24 Alternative Calculation Method Reference Manual to enable improved modeling capabilities of radiant systems.

This project will develop new practical design and operation tools for radiant cooling and heating systems in order to provide a standardized guidance for radiant systems. The approach will include a combination of fundamental full-scale laboratory experiments, whole-building simulations, development of simplified models for radiant system controls, validation of these new methods in field studies, occupant satisfaction surveys, and an update to Title-24 for radiant systems. The project outcomes will include 1) a simplified tool for calculating the cooling load and cooling capacity of a radiant slab system, including calculation methods with significant direct solar radiation, 2) a simplified online operational tool for radiant slab systems, and 3) updates to the Title 24 Alternative Calculation Method Reference Manual to enable improved modeling capabilities of radiant systems.

The purpose of this project is to fund research that will reduce the stress on current water infrastructure in California. Research will include: (1) development of high water recovery desalination processes for non-traditional waters, (2) characterizing the potential for non-traditional water use in California, (3) development of recycled water scenarios for electricity generation, and (4) improving the characterization of California's snowpack.

The purpose of this project is to fund research that will reduce the stress on current water infrastructure in California. Research will include: (1) development of high water recovery desalination processes for non-traditional waters, (2) characterizing the potential for non-traditional water use in California, (3) development of recycled water scenarios for electricity generation, and (4) improving the characterization of California's snowpack.

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.

The project will provide detailed cost effectiveness modeling of all electric zero net energy (ZNE) homes versus ZNE homes with gas-based heating. Evaluation will include costs of building integration, energy efficiency packages, installed equipment and lifetime investment costs such as energy costs, and infrastructure costs (natural gas pipeline and electricity distribution system). The project will provide both spatial and temporal analysis in providing cost effectiveness assessment in four California climate zones and provide cost evolution scenarios as a function of time, for example as the ZNE industry scales up and under various policy and energy cost assumptions. The analysis will provide policymakers with a better understanding of the costs and benefits of ZNE policy choices between today and future ZNE milestones (2020, 2030), and the trade-offs for all electric versus electric and gas households

The project will provide detailed cost effectiveness modeling of all electric zero net energy (ZNE) homes versus ZNE homes with gas-based heating. Evaluation will include costs of building integration, energy efficiency packages, installed equipment and lifetime investment costs such as energy costs, and infrastructure costs (natural gas pipeline and electricity distribution system). The project will provide both spatial and temporal analysis in providing cost effectiveness assessment in four California climate zones and provide cost evolution scenarios as a function of time, for example as the ZNE industry scales up and under various policy and energy cost assumptions. The analysis will provide policymakers with a better understanding of the costs and benefits of ZNE policy choices between today and future ZNE milestones (2020, 2030), and the trade-offs for all electric versus electric and gas households

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.

The project develops IT based component technologies to enable more efficient building operations and reduce costs. The project is expected to reduce the time to specify, implement and verify the proper operation of control sequences and make a strong business case for designers, controls contractors and controls manufacturers to adopt the new technology.

The Wild Center will refine the analysis to determine the optimum thermal storage volume with respect to energy savings, cost, and available area. The preliminary analysis shows that 1,700 gallons would yield improved performance, however they do not have the space to install a single tank with this volume. Instead, they will install two tanks each with half the identified volume. Clarkson University will build upon their previous studies of the boiler and extensively monitor the performance benefits associated with the thermal storage. They will capture data of the course of two years which will provide a comprehensive data set. They will also conduct an evaluation according to the ASHRAE 155P test method. The Wild Center will incorporate the data into their exhibits, allowing visitors to better understand biomass combustion.

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

Southface Energy Institute and partners will develop and validate a performance-based indoor air quality assessment protocol for homes. The assessment protocol and smart ERV solution will achieve annual HVAC energy cost savings of approximately $100 compared to central fan integrated supply system, as well as a 50% reduction in ventilation-related latent loads compared to supply or exhaust ventilation strategies.

Fraunhofer USA Center for Sustainable Energy Systems Inc. and partners will develop models that use communicating thermostat data and interval electricity and gas data to remotely identify homes with significant energy savings opportunities. The tool will identify the top 20% of homes with the greatest potential for energy savings from insulation, air sealing, and/or heating system upgrades, reducing the number of unnecessary energy audits.

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

Hydronic Specialty Supply will develop an interface module that organizes the hydronics layout of a biomass-fired boiler and integrates smart control options for multi-boiler systems. The controls will be able to optimally manage the operation of the existing fossil fuel boiler, new biomass boiler, thermal storage tank, space heating, and even DHW. This interface module will be comprised of standardized hardware components, therefore reducing net installed cost to consumers and taking advantage of economies of scale. The project will bring the proposed solution through the prototyping phase into laboratory and field tests.

This project will research methods to reduce home idle loads by utilizing smart meter analytics, an engaging smart phone app, a new online crowd-sourced database of miscellaneous electric loads, and an online efficient product marketplace to educate California residents about the idle load of their home and ways to reduce it. The system will be piloted within all three electric investor owned utility territories and measure actual energy savings through smart meter data.

The Pacific Northwest (PNW) Smart Grid project is a five-year demonstration led by Battelle and partners including BPA, 11 utilities, two universities, and five vendors. The cost is $178 million ($89 million private, $89 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funded). The project will include 60,000 metered customers in five states. The project aims to substantially increase smart grid asset installation in the region by purchasing and installing smart grid technology. The project goals are to facilitate integration of wind and other renewables, quantify costs and benefits, develop two-way communication protocol, and advance interoperability standards.

This project will integrate water features into a novel heat exchanger which uses high performance porous fins to enhance cooling ability. Bench scale testing has shown the ability of the heat exchanger to enhance cooling through water vaporization and mass transfer. By integrating the proven heat exchanger with water features, this project has the potential to create a low cost and low risk product to reduce electric power and water use of refrigeration systems in California.

This project seeks to reduce computers' energy consumption by improving how users employ existing power management capabilities. Although all computers have the capacity to enter low-power modes such as sleep, and can be shut down when not in use, this potential for energy savings has not been realized in the majority of desktop computers. The majority of desktop computers remain on at full power when they are not being used. The problem is one of user behavior. The project will use a software solution to change user behavior by changing the tool they are using. This approach is firmly based in behavior theory and human-computer interaction research, which have long demonstrated that the interface of a device can change users' behavior. The energy savings of applying such an interface is estimated to be as high as 50 percent per computer, between 139 and 321 kWh per year.

This project seeks to reduce computers' energy consumption by improving how users employ existing power management capabilities. Although all computers have the capacity to enter low-power modes such as sleep, and can be shut down when not in use, this potential for energy savings has not been realized in the majority of desktop computers. The majority of desktop computers remain on at full power when they are not being used. The problem is one of user behavior. The project will use a software solution to change user behavior by changing the tool they are using. This approach is firmly based in behavior theory and human-computer interaction research, which have long demonstrated that the interface of a device can change users' behavior. The energy savings of applying such an interface is estimated to be as high as 50 percent per computer, between 139 and 321 kWh per year.

Eaton Corporation will develop a new low-cost, high-efficiency LED architecture made possible by advanced manufacturing techniques which will enable both high efficiency and high color quality. Reduced material costs and optimized manufacturing could reduce the integrated light engine price from $50/klm at the project's inception to less than $4/klm.

The Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program supports energy efficiency programs to work with qualified home performance contractors to help homeowners turn building-science based improvement recommendations into actual home improvements with installed measures. Currently, there are nearly 2,000 contractors across 32 states offering systematic, whole-home approaches to improving the energy efficiency and comfort to consumers.

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.

Although on-demand water heaters are 37% more efficient than storage water heaters, they are significantly more expensive. The increased cost results from use of multi-stage burner banks that require complex electronic controls. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's (LBNL) Low Swirl Burner (LSB) could reduce burner complexity for these appliances. Manufacturing costs may be reduced if LBNL's LSB technology is successfully applied to on-demand water heaters. LBNL performed laboratory testing to confirm the technical suitability of the LSB for on-demand water heaters across relevant product specifications.

The Institute for Market Transformation will develop an innovative toolkit and other resources to enable cities and energy efficiency program administrators to better analyze building energy data and subsequently deliver energy savings more successfully. This project could lead to substantial energy savings gains in U.S. cities.

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.

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.

Columbia University, with partners Lucid, Siemens, and Microsoft, has developed a technology that encourages occupants to change their electricity use by reducing their load or shifting usage to non-peak hours. By utilizing a human-in-the-loop approach and occupant feedback strategies, this sub-metering and feedback technology can reduce residential energy use by at least 30%.

Syracuse University will fabricate and laboratory test a stack of Flame-assisted Fuel Cells (FFCs), which can generate electricity from the flame of fuel combustion. The research is intended to analyze the performance of the FFCs as well as their ability to undergo extensive thermal cycling. Data will be collected to quantify the open circuit voltage, power density, current density, and stack impedance compared to calculated values. Syracuse University will conduct research to determine if there are any opportunities to improve on material construction. The project will conclude with a market analysis and economic assessment of applications for the technology

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.

A number of states are integrating residential energy labeling into their policies for new and existing homes. This efforts looks to develop best practices for states working in this area.

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