DOE invests millions to improve commercial building efficiency

DOE's Building Technologies Office (BTO) is investing more than $3 million in five projects to improve the efficiency of the nation’s commercial buildings.

The investment is designed to drive innovation in multisystem technology packages while also fostering the collaboration of dynamic industry teams that include energy consultants and nongovernmental organizations, utilities and technology providers, the agency said.

“Commercial buildings consume almost 20 percent of all energy within the United States,” said David Nemtzow, director of the Building Technologies Office. “Research and development focusing on these innovative technology packages will uncover key interactions between commercial building systems that can improve our nation’s commercial building stock and cut energy bills for American businesses.”

The projects, which include matching private-sector funding, will leverage a combined $5.4 million to help ignite new innovative 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 percent of total U.S. energy consumption, including 36 percent of national electricity consumption. In 2014, the United States spent more than $180 billion to provide energy services to these existing commercial buildings.

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). The projects will help commercial building owners and operators better understand and optimize building systems in order to achieve significant cost-effective energy savings.

Projects selected for funding are:

  • A Systems Approach to Achieving Deep Heating Savings through Measurement, Management and Motivation. This team proposes to validate the heating and occupant-based savings in existing multifamily units using “smart” and connected wireless thermostatic radiator valves.
  • Integrated Solutions for Optimized Performance (ISOP) Package. 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.
  • Bringing Fault Detection and Diagnosis (FDD) Tools into the Mainstream for Retro-Commissioning and Continuous Commissioning of HVAC and Refrigeration Systems. The 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.
  • Integrated Controls Package for High Performance Interior Retrofit.
    The 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.
  • Using Network Switches to Operate and Control Lighting and Plug Loads in Commercial Building Office Spaces. The 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. 

Topics: Architectural Firms, Associations / Organizations, Automation and Controls, Building Owners and Managers, Construction Firms, Consulting - Green & Sustainable Strategies and Solutions, Daylighting / Skylights / Natural Lighting, Energy Audit / Energy Management, Energy Saving Products, Engineering Firms, Environmental Firms, Healthy & Comfortable Buildings, Highrise Residential, Indoor Air Quality (IAQ), Interiors, Multifamily / Multiunit Residential, Sustainable Communities, Technology, Thermal Envelope - Building Envelope, Urban Planning and Design, Ventilation

Companies: U.S. Department of Energy


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