The U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) announced $74 million for 63 selected projects to research, develop, and test energy-efficient and flexible building technologies, systems, and construction practices to improve the energy performance of the country’s’s buildings and electric grid.
In a statement, the DoE said that awardees include national laboratories, universities, small businesses, and industry partners.
America’s 125 million residential and commercial buildings use more energy than any other sector in the United States, accounting for 40% of the country’s energy use and nearly 75% of its electricity consumption, according to the department. The research partnerships announced that they will pursue new technologies to enhance the energy productivity of buildings and improve the capacity of buildings to operate more flexibly, the DOE said.
“DOE is accelerating its quest to improve the energy productivity and flexibility of America’s residential and commercial buildings,” said Assistant Secretary of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Daniel Simmons. “We’re renewing our commitment to develop state-of-the-art building technologies that will empower Americans with more options to enhance buildings performance quickly without disruption to their lives.”
DoE said that many of these projects will advance technologies to unlock energy savings through grid interactive efficient buildings and advanced building construction technologies and practices. For example, the grid interactive efficient building projects will make advances in technologies to link buildings to one another across the internet and the power grid, which would enable a greater degree of flexibility over conventional buildings to reschedule operations to periods of the day when energy is cheaper and more efficient to use.
Other projects will focus on developing new thermal energy storage materials, advancements in non-vapor compression HVAC technologies, fuel-driven building equipment, and solid-state lighting, DOE said.
Last year, the DOE announced that up to $33.5 million in funding was available for early-stage research and development of advanced building construction techniques to reduce energy bills.
The Advanced Building Construction with Energy-Efficient Technologies & Practices (ABC) Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) had the main aim of developing deep energy retrofit and new construction technologies that tackle a combination of envelope, heating, cooling, water heating, and ventilation issues.
The FOA addresses three areas:
Topic 1 – Integrated Building Retrofits: Focuses on integrating technologies to achieve more affordable, deep energy savings in existing buildings (e.g. light and durable highly insulated panels, combined heating and cooling, and hot water systems). Up to 75% energy reduction is sought for major building loads such a space heating and cooling, water heating, and ventilation.
Topic 2 – New Construction Technologies: Focuses on building design, construction, and installation (e.g., off-site manufacturing, robotics, digitization, automation, and improved modeling) to improve affordability, scalability, and performance of energy efficient building systems and methods. The DEO said that this topic seeks solutions that lead to construction of homes and buildings that are 50% more efficient compared to current code. This topic has a special emphasis to make mobile homes significantly more efficient while keeping the same initial cost, the government agency said.
Topic 3 – Advanced Technology Integration: Focuses on field validation of new innovative technologies and building practices, workforce training, and service delivery methods suited to regional and/or local needs, including those related to building stock, regional climates and grid characteristics.