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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.

Unico Systems will develop a highly efficient, cost-effective residential cold climate heat pump that maintains efficiency and reliability at very low temperatures. The technology could lead to annual energy savings of 0.1 quads, equal to a reduction of 5.9 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), in partnership with ClimateWell and Rheem, will develop a residential, gas-fired split heat pump that will use an ammonia refrigerant, which is not a greenhouse gas and can convert chemical energy to heating and cooling without using any moving seals.

This project will test and validate an Intelligent Energy Management Solution (iEMS) in 100 residences to communicate with a variety of distributed energy resources over different climate zones and behavioral patterns. The intent of the project is to model and measure the potential energy and cost impact associated with the use of the iEMS in homes without affecting occupant comfort. The project will also integrate the use of pilot time-of-use utility rates in conjunction with simulated dynamic pricing signals to optimize customer cost savings.

In recent years, hundreds of communities have been working to promote energy efficiency upgrades in homes and other buildings, through programs such as the Better Buildings Neighborhood Program, Home Performance with ENERGY STAR, utility-sponsored programs, and others. The Better Buildings Residential Program Solution Center is a repository for key lessons, resources, and knowledge collected from the experience of these efforts. It is intended to help program administrators and their partners plan, operate, and evaluate residential energy efficiency programs.

In recent years, hundreds of communities have been working to promote energy efficiency upgrades in homes and other buildings, through programs such as the Better Buildings Neighborhood Program, Home Performance with ENERGY STAR, utility-sponsored programs, and others. The Better Buildings Residential Program Solution Center is a repository for key lessons, resources, and knowledge collected from the experience of these efforts. It is intended to help program administrators and their partners plan, operate, and evaluate residential energy efficiency programs.

This project proposes to research an issue which was identified during the current reverse cycle chiller (RCC) study regarding distributed heat loss. This project builds on an existing BPA funded multifamily heat pump reverse cycle chiller project, TIP 140. The results of this project have been good. This is a technology which has potential for multifamily and other applications in the Pacific Northwest. The TIP 140 project results identified that hot water recirculation systems can reduce efficiency by 30-40%. Additional work needs to be done to quantify the energy losses associated with typical hot water distribution systems. This research project contains a comprehensive approach to understanding and reducing energy losses in hot water recirculation systems. There are three work areas. The primary area is a pilot study to set up three different hot water distribution systems and understand the impact these three different approaches will have on the overall system efficiency. The second area is to meter actual heat loss from recirculation systems in two to three existing midrise multifamily buildings to better characterize the baseline. The third area is to directly measure performance of inverter-driven heat pump water heaters in the field with and without the impact of recirculation loops.

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.

This demonstration project will test the viability of replacing an RTU with Variable Capacity Heat Pump, Heat Recovery Ventilation (HRV) and a Dedicated Outside Air Source technologies. This project supports NEEA's HRV proof of concept project, by supporting a cold-climate installation at a BPA utility's building estimated to save 70% of the RTU energy use. Demonstration will inform future streamlined custom measures.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory will develop a high-impact heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAC&R) technology that can be used in many applications. This technology could lead to 0.7 - 1.1 quads of energy savings.

Sandia National Laboratories will develop a vapor compression cycle architecture. This technology can lead to an estimated 20% decrease in energy consumption in air conditioners and even greater savings when used as a heat pump in cold climates.

This project will integrate pre-commercial energy efficiency measures, building automation and controls system, behind the meter solar photovoltaic and energy storage in three existing public libraries in the City of San Diego. In addition to demonstrating cost-effective pathways to achieving maximum energy efficiency in the small commercial/municipal building sector, the recipient will engage in a multiyear, flexible, and transparent collaboration aimed at uncovering, testing, verifying and publicizing strategies for integrating energy efficiency, energy storage, solar photovoltaics, and other demand side resources to achieve near zero net energy in each library and to evaluate the financial value proposition.

The Association of Bay Area Governments will perform modeling analysis in nine Bay Area counties to help small and medium businesses achieve the cost effective energy efficiency improvements. The BayREN Integrated Commercial Retrofits project will modify and enhance existing open source tools to perform large-scale building energy modeling analysis on commercial buildings throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

Cree will develop a versatile, low-cost, low profile LED light-module architecture that facilitates the assembly of a variety of high-efficacy, broad-area LED luminaires. This lightweight architecture will be applicable to numerous high-efficiency, broad-area LED luminaires and will ultimately reduce the cost per lumen of LED lighting.

Cree, Inc. will develop a low-cost, high-efficiency LED architecture through modification to the conventional LED fabrication process flow. These new processes can be deployed in a variety of LED production lines, leading to reduced lighting energy use.

The project will transition the newly developed emitter materials from laboratory scale to pilot scale followed by comprehensive testing that will involve strategic manufacturing partners as part of the pre commercialization process.

Via a controlled demonstration, this project will provide economic justification and a plan for a market transformation effort to cause all new water heaters sold in the Pacific North West to be sold with the CEA-2045 modular communication interface and to include demand responsive behavior built into the electronic controls so the water heater will be DR ready. Update: This project is progressing. Recently, utility grants were awarded to fund locations for installations later this year.

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.

In response to increased use of adaptive, exterior lighting products, and their potential for substantial energy savings, utilities are interested in creating a deemed incentive program focused on this technology. A simplified method is necessary to easily calculate expected energy savings and associated incentives. Energy savings for adaptive luminaires is clearly tied to occupancy patterns. To support a deemed incentive program, standardized occupancy profiles for a variety of nine key non-residential exterior spaces will be developed. These profiles may be used to easily calculate expected energy savings and associated incentives for a proposed adaptive exterior lighting project. Questions to address include: What is the occupancy/vacancy pattern for the nine building types? How does the rate vary across the different types of buildings? What are the variables that impact the occupancy/vacancy?

The new simplified energy enthalpy model (SEEM) project will both document and review the Regional Technical Forum (RTF) residential heating load calibration process. This independent review of the RTF residential heating load calibration process provides due diligence for the recent RTF reduction of residential measure savings, which may result in many existing measures becoming not cost-effective. Also, this review will ensure the new Planning tool (being developed under TIP318) doesnt just incorporate the RTF process, but instead incorporates the most appropriate calibration process. The RTF residential heating load calibration process was questioned at the an RTF meeting because it assumes the same heating load calibration for any heating zone. This project is needed for both existing and future residential measures and the Residential Sector fully supports this project.

The Building America Space Conditioning Standing Technical Committee and Expert Meeting reports identified high relative humidity as one of three issues with the highest technical priority for ensuring comfort in low-load homes. As such, the primary objective of this project is to evaluate factors that can contribute to high relative humidity in a home (variations in internal loads, equipment sizing, and equipment setup) and quantify their relative magnitude of impact on indoor relative humidity. A technical white paper will assess the sensitivity latent and sensible gains have on comfort and recommended system sizing. This will inform R&D needs for future BA/BTO work, provide actionable information to manufacturers on the equipment needs of low-load homes (see related project, Assessing the Market and Space-Conditioning Needs of Low-Load Homes), and provide system design and sizing guidance to contractors.

In this project, the Lighting Research Center (LRC) of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute will demonstrate and evaluate LED lighting and controls. The LRC will first evaluate a range of commercially available but currently underutilized control products and systems, from simple stand-alone controls, to fixture-integrated products, and more complex automated control systems. The LRC will review the features, operations, and protocols of each system selected and will analyze the operation of these control products with various types of drivers commonly used in commercially available LED lighting products. Once this review is complete, the LRC will down select two or more control systems to demonstrate and evaluate in different areas of an existing office building. The LRC will also select and install LED lighting fixtures to retrofit the existing fluorescent lighting in the building. Once the systems are installed and commissioned, the LRC will evaluate the operation of the control and LED lighting systems and compare their performance, operation, energy savings, and occupant acceptance to each other, as well as to the previously existing lighting system.

enVerid Systems will demonstrate modular air treatment systems that use less energy to remove indoor air pollutants, such as carbon dioxide, in order to drive widespread adoption of this technology. This approach could reduce the energy consumption in commercial and public buildings by up to 50%.

BPA secondary research on Single-Package, Vertical Heat Pumps (SPVHP) supports the energy savings potential, and non-energy benefits, such as better indoor air quality for modular school buildings. The project will fund the installation of up to 5 SPVHPs. Project activities include pre and post metering; units would be installed over the summer to be ready for testing in the new school year. Following the analyses of the metered data, the decision will be made whether to expand the field test to other locations.

This project developed a retrofit energy toolkit for SMB and demonstrated the Toolkit's capabilities on three to four building test sites. The project obtained input from stakeholders on retrofit packages, compiled utility smart-meter data and developed a load shape analysis module. The project also looked at the indoor environmental quality effects on retrofitted small office and retail buildings, and developed a comprehensive web-based retrofit tool for business owners and energy professionals.

Ecology Action of Santa Cruz will develop a platform for energy efficiency program administrators that offers a comprehensive set of energy-saving measures, integrated financing tools, and expedited project measurement and verification via a contractor-driven delivery model. The platform seeks to average at least 20% energy savings per building.

This project proposes to design, pilot, and verify air-source, CO2 heat pump water heaters for domestic water heating in small-scale multifamily buildings. A second, significant goal of the project is to enable technology transfer.

BPA is working with NEEA to install indoor temperature loggers in 200 single family homes in the upcoming Residential Building Stock Assessments (RBSA) to collect indoor air temperature (IAT) data from (RBSA) homes during the next study period. This IAT data is needed to help establish required baselines for the Smart Thermostat measure initiatives. Installations will start in July 2016 and run through July 2017. Loggers will be collected after 9 months of data collection and analyses will begin. Interim results will be available starting September 2017.

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.

To reduce energy use in homes that are becoming tighter, mechanical ventilation is added to maintain Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). Smart ventilation technologies are being developed to minimize the energy impact of mechanical ventilation while simultaneously maintaining IAQ. This project will demonstrate the energy savings associated with a smart ventilation technology through a combination of field testing and simulations. The target is to get close to heat recovery ventilation (HRV) performance at much lower cost and complexity; and greater reliability through smart control of simple exhaust (or supply) fans. The project will also develop recommendations for utility programs, other energy efficiency programs and for codes/standards on how to calculate credits for smart ventilation systems.

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.

The Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator will accelerate the market adoption of super-efficient building technologies by creating a replicable transparent process for taking technologies from pilot to portfolio. The project will measure, document, and publicize the results of highly energy-efficient technology pilot demonstration projects, as well as help property owners define clear metrics to scale up projects.

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.

Activities under this project will advance the development and market readiness of Vital Vio lighting products. These activities include characterization and optimization of Vital Vios current prototypes, full scale design concepts, LED module requirements including design and thermal analysis, LED module for incorporation into final fixture designs, various testing and certifications, and pilot implementations.

Lime Energy and partners will implement an energy efficiency service delivery model for small and medium size businesses in low-income communities, aiming to complete more than 1,000 retrofits featuring a performance guarantee and meter-validated savings. The results will create 60 jobs and generate $30 million in economic activity.

Arizona State University will develop efficient and stable white OLEDs that employ a single emissive material. This advancement in OLED technology could lead to building energy use reductions.

This project will research, develop, and demonstrate blue-emitting layers (blue-EML) capable of overcoming the existing device efficiency vs. device stability tradeoff in blue-emitting OLEDs, and enable next-generation stable white OLEDs (WOLEDs).

The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, will develop new strategies for increasing the lifetime of blue phosphorescent OLEDs (PHOLEDs). Longer-life PHOLEDs could provide notable energy and cost savings.

HPC will support the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Program (HPwES) to engage with stakeholders at regional and national conferences through structured meetings and recognition opportunities; provide business administration, marketing and sales training specific to the home performance industry to program administrator staff and participating contractors; and conduct outreach and develop infrastructure sufficient to increase the number of programs and other market actors that utilize the Building Performance Institutes data collection and transfer standards collectively known as HPXML.

Glint Photonics will develop a stationary, roof-mounted concentrator daylighting system that uses internal optics to track the sun without external movement. This daylighting system will offset 40%-70% of the buildings electricity used for lighting and could potentially generate a total impact of 0.93 quads by 2030.

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.

Steven Winter Associates will develop and test methods for estimating the savings potential for partially or fully sealing these opening using tools common to energy auditors. The costs and benefits of best practice approaches for reducing energy losses through elevator and stairwell vents will be determined. A technical report will also be prepared for building owners, coop board of directors and energy auditors.

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.

The goal of this project is to further understanding of the energy saving potential of ducted minisplit heat pumps (DMS) compared to electric resistance heat in the side by side PNNL Lab Homes. This project will provide an experimental plan to evaluate the performance of ducted mini-splits. PNNL will review the current lab and field testing on ducted minisplits to determine the most relevant test case scenarios for this technology and develop an experimental plan to test ducted minisplits in the PNNL Lab Homes, using electric resistance heat and a heat pump as the two baseline cases. As part of the plan, PNNL will identify data needed to develop an EnergyPlus model for ducted minisplits in the Lab Homes which would allow for extrapolation of the energy savings of this technology to other climates or other buildings. If needed, In a second phase of the project, PNNL will implement the experimental plan in the Lab Homes.

RTI International will develop and validate a reliability model and accelerated life testing methodologies to predict the lifetime of integrated solid-state lighting luminaires. By improving testing methods, this project will give additional product information to manufacturers and SSL users who seek to justify higher first cost for SSL products over less efficient lighting technologies.

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.

The research goals of the project will to identify what types of systems would provide the best baseline data for the Pacific NW (PNW). Utilizing a new portable metering system that can measure temperatures, pressures, true power, heat load, and Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) of Commercial Refrigeration, units will be installed at four different grocery stores. Sites will be selected that would be open to a large scale energy conservation project that modifies the refrigeration system. The portable Climacheck systems will remain in place a full year after the project to study the effect on the new system and quantify energy savings. After 1 year of post project data collection, the Climacheck systems may be moved around more frequently to collect shorter-term period (three, six, or nine month) data on additional sites and system types.