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DOE Announces Scaling Up the Next Generation of Building Efficiency Packages Funding Awards

Projects will help drive innovative, energy-saving technologies in commercial buildings

The Energy Department's Building Technologies Office announced it is investing more than $3 million in five projects to improve the efficiency of America’s commercial buildings. This investment is designed to drive innovation in multi-system technology packages rather than single technologies or “widgets.” This new funding is fostering the collaboration of dynamic industry teams that include energy consultants, non-governmental organizations, utilities, and technology providers.

The projects, which include matching private sector funding, will leverage a combined $5.4 million to help ignite new, next-generation commercial building technology packages that can save significant energy in new and existing buildings. U.S. commercial buildings use nearly 18 quads of energy annually, roughly 18% of total U.S. energy consumption, including 36% of national electricity consumption. In 2014, the United States spent more than $180 billion to provide energy services to commercial buildings. Through strategic R&D investments, like these projects, energy efficiency building technologies can dramatically improve the energy performance of commercial buildings, saving money and helping create jobs.

Each project team, made up of strategically structured partners, will  develop and verify the benefits and trade-offs of multisystem energy efficient technology packages (groups of technologies that improve efficiency across two building systems: envelope, lighting/electrical, plug, process, heating, ventilation, cooling, refrigeration, energy management and information, sensors and controls). These projects will help commercial building owners and operators better understand and optimize building systems in order to achieve significant cost-effective energy savings. Selected teams will create new synergies between building stakeholder groups, and, ultimately help utilities develop and release or expand more aggressive and ambitious energy efficiency program offerings.

Projects selected for funding are:

• A Systems Approach to Achieving Deep Heating Savings through Measurement, Management and Motivation

Led by Steven Winter Associates in Connecticut, this team proposes to validate the heating and occupant-based savings in existing multifamily units using “smart” and connected wireless thermostatic radiator valves. Key partners include Sentient Technologies ConEd, and the Related Companies.

• Integrated Solutions for Optimized Performance (ISOP) Package

Led by TRC Energy Services in California, this team proposes to study the synergistic interactions of daylighting, plug controls, automated fault detection and diagnostics (AFDD) and heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system optimization. This project seeks to answer untested building science research questions about the complexity of integration among these components as they are applied within operational commercial buildings. Partners include lighting, shading, HVAC control and AFDD providers and the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities.

• Bringing Fault Detection and Diagnosis (FDD) Tools into the Mainstream for Retro-Commissioning and Continuous Commissioning of HVAC and Refrigeration Systems

Led by the University of New Haven in Connecticut, this team proposes to study selected software platforms that apply algorithms to identify, diagnose, and sometimes fix “broken” electric cooling, ventilation, and refrigeration systems in buildings. Key partners include UTRC and United Illuminating.

• Integrated Controls Package for High Performance Interior Retrofit

Led by Seventhwave, this team proposes to study the integration trade-offs, cost and energy optimization of daylighting, LED electric lighting, plug load sensors and zonal air flow control. Key partners include lighting control, plug load control, and window film providers and Xcel Energy, the State of Illinois, and the University of Minnesota.

• Using Network Switches to Operate and Control Lighting and Plug Loads in Commercial Building Office Spaces

Led by the Minnesota Center for Energy and Environment, this team proposes to research and validate energy and cost savings opportunities using existing power over Ethernet (PoE) infrastructure to power and automate lighting, plugs and HVAC system controls. Partners include a PoE consultant, plug control provider, architecture and engineering firms, Xcel Energy and CBRE.

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