The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) announced a Request for Information (RFI) seeking public input on a potential funding opportunity to demonstrate and evaluate the capacity of energy-efficient buildings to interact with one another and the grid to provide greater degrees of demand flexibility at scale.
The notice of intent for the “Connected Communities” funding opportunity had been initially announced in early February.
DoE described a “connected community” as a group of grid-interactive efficient buildings with diverse, flexible end-use equipment that collectively work to maximize building and grid efficiency without compromising occupant needs and confort.
Those connected communities leverage smart technology, distributed energy resources, flexible loads, and grid integration to cost-effectively reduce energy use and peak demand while improving the occupant experience, the agency said.
The RFI allows a wide range of stakeholders to work with DOE on issues related to connected communities and help design and shape the goals of a potential “Connected Communities” funding opportunity.
The DOE said that it is working toward a future in which buildings serve as reliable grid assets that operate dynamically with the grid to make electricity more affordable. The DOE’s investment in connected communities supports its Grid-interactive Efficient Buildings research initiative, which explores how smart building technologies and practices enable American businesses and families to save energy and reduce their utility bills.
EERE’s Building Technologies Office (BTO), in collaboration with the Vehicle Technologies Office, Solar Energy Technologies Office and DOE’s Office of Electricity, will manage the potential funding opportunity. EERE anticipates awarding 4-6 projects for up to $7 million each in the form of cooperative agreements, or up to $42 million. At present, EERE intends to issue the funding opportunity in the summer of 2020.
Interested parties will have time to respond to the RFI until May 12.
In February, the 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.
The DoE said that awardees included 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.