U.S. DOE Invests $14 Million to Increase Energy Efficiency of Homes and Buildings

Home energy efficiency DOE

As part of the U.S. Administration’s effort to cut energy waste in the nation’s buildings and double energy productivity by 2030, the Energy Department today announced $14 million to dramatically increase the efficiency of our nation’s homes and buildings. These projects will cut energy costs for thousands of American families and businesses, while leading to greater demand for new building products and technologies, many of which can be produced in the U.S.

“The small-medium commercial sector and homebuilding industry are critical to the American economy, but under-resourced when it comes to energy efficiency,” said Kathleen Hogan, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency. “These efficiency solutions will allow us to build better, healthier homes and significantly improve our nation’s existing building stock, cutting energy bills for American consumers and businesses.”

Through the Commercial Buildings Integration program, the Energy Department will make six awards for up to $8.4 million to nationally scale-up replicable, energy-efficient solutions for small and medium office buildings, apartments, stores, restaurants, and businesses. In 2015, commercial buildings used nearly 20 percent of the nation’s total energy—more than half of which is consumed by small and medium buildings (under 100,000 square feet).

These new partners will implement deep retrofit and workforce training programs, spur adoption of advanced energy-efficient technologies, and initiate efficiency programs for small businesses in low-income communities. The projects will improve the efficiency of at least 2,600 buildings nationwide, leverage almost $17 million in partner resources, and create nearly 500 jobs.

The projects selected for funding are:

  • International Center for Appropriate and Sustainable Technology (Lakewood, Colorado) will demonstrate a financially sustainable mechanism for retrofitting small apartment buildings that can be scaled nationally. This approach will cut energy use by 20-30 percent, reduce utility bills by $3,100 a year per building, and create 200 jobs.
  • City of Seattle (Seattle) will reduce the city’s energy costs by $1.5 million annually by training local building operations professionals to more effectively tune up buildings to improve their efficiency.
  • Institute for Market Transformation (Washington, DC) will partner with local chambers of commerce to help small business landlords and tenants improve the energy efficiency of more than 400 leased buildings.
  • Association of Bay Area Governments (Oakland, California) will perform large-scale building energy modeling analysis in nine Bay Area counties to target small businesses that will achieve the most cost-effective, deep energy retrofits.
  • NextEnergy (Detroit) will spur the adoption of advanced lighting control solutions in small and medium commercial buildings. The group will train 100 contractors in simplified installation methods, develop a model for streamlined utility incentives, and educate consumers.
  • Lime Energy (Newark, New Jersey) will complete more than 1,000 retrofit projects in low-income communities in the Buffalo, Houston, Orlando, and Memphis areas. The results will create 60 jobs and generate $30 million in economic activity.

Under its Building America program, the Energy Department will make eight awards for up to $5.5 million for industry partners to create healthier, more comfortable homes that will save homeowners money on their utility bills. Partners will pilot several innovative approaches: low-cost construction methods; highly-efficient integrated heating, cooling, and ventilation systems; indoor air quality (IAQ) solutions for healthier homes; and software that will remotely identify homes that can benefit most from energy efficiency retrofits. They will also demonstrate zero energy-ready homes for the affordable housing market.

A major focus of the Building America program is cutting a home’s heating and cooling costs. Typically, heating and cooling account for 40 percent of a home’s energy consumption—the largest single energy use and more than water heating, refrigeration, and lighting combined. In 2014, U.S. homeowners spent approximately $70 billion to heat their homes and $24 billion to cool them.

The following projects are selected for funding:

  • University of Minnesota: Twin Cities (Minneapolis) will demonstrate 15 zero energy- ready affordable homes with an innovative solid panel wall system that is more durable, 50 percent more energy efficient, and costs less to build than standard framing.
  • Newport Partners (Davidsonville, Maryland) will develop a quiet “Smart” Range Hood that is five times more efficient than today’s ENERGY STAR® models, captures nearly 100 percent of cooking pollutants, and is cost competitive with other kitchen range hoods currently on the market.
  • Building Science Corporation (Westford, Massachusetts) will study construction details for insulated roof assemblies that may substantially reduce attic condensation risk and construction costs, potentially reducing HVAC energy use by 10 percent or more in houses with HVAC and duct systems in the attic.
  • Fraunhofer USA, Inc. (Boston) will develop a software tool that automatically and remotely analyzes smart thermostat and interval meter data to identify household-specific retrofit opportunities that reduce heating energy consumption, potentially improving program effectiveness by 50 percent or more.
  • Steven Winter Associates, Inc. (Washington, DC) will demonstrate a ventilation integrated high-efficiency heat pump system that will provide balanced, distributed ventilation with heat recovery, reduce HVAC energy use by 400-800 kilowatts annually, and cost $1,000-$2,000 less than separate ducted systems.
  • Center for Energy and Environment (Minneapolis) will evaluate an envelope air sealing method that uses aerosol sealant and simultaneously measures, locates, and seals leaks, significantly improving quality control and reducing labor costs.
  • Home Innovation Research Labs, Inc. (Upper Marlboro, Maryland) will conduct comprehensive structural testing of window installation techniques for walls with continuous insulation to inform industry guidance, energy codes, and enable wider adoption of this highly-effective insulation solution.
  • Southface Energy Institute (Atlanta) will establish an IAQ scoring system for homes and assess the ability of a smart energy recovery ventilator to improve IAQ and comfort, while reducing the energy required for ventilation and dehumidification by 50 percent.

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