DOE Announces Research On Integrated Building Systems

Five projects are being funded to delve into the further potential of integrated systems for commercial building energy efficiency.

The U.S. Department of Energy has selected Seventhwave and its partners to study and discover the energy and cost savings associated with integrated controls. With offices in Madison, WI and Chicago, Seventhwave is a nonprofit firm providing energy efficiency engineering, education, research, and program delivery.

Commenting on this project, Integrated Controls Package for High Performance Interior Retrofit
, Scott Hackel, director of engineering for the firm, said, “Seventhwave is proud to contribute to a national effort to drive innovation in reducing energy usage of our nation’s commercial buildings. We will investigate and share the impacts and trade-offs from integrating LED lighting, daylighting, plug load controls, and zone air flow controls. This can empower owners and designers to aim for a higher level of energy performance, and improve indoor environmental quality — which also benefits building occupants.”

Seventhwave will partner with leading lighting control, plug load control, and window film providers as well as Xcel Energy, the State of Illinois, Hennepin County, and the University of Minnesota to test this approach in the Midwest.integrated systems

Integrated Research Approach

The Seventhwave research endeavor is part of the Department of Energy’s Building Technologies Office (BTO) July 2017 announcement that it will invest more than $3 million in five projects to improve the efficiency of commercial buildings in the U.S. This 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.

“Commercial buildings consume almost 20% 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. It’s an excellent partnership among U.S. businesses, universities, and the Department of Energy.”

These 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. Findings from this work will also enable and unleash investment-level decision-making, helping accelerate the development of utility programs for packages of technologies that meet cost-effectiveness thresholds.

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. The aim is for selected teams to create new synergies between building stakeholder groups, and, ultimately help utilities develop and release or expand more aggressive and ambitious energy efficiency program offerings.

In addition to the Seventhwave project, the 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.

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.

Seventhwave energy engineer Brett Bridgeland, CEM, LEED AP, will participate as a panelist in the Creating An Energy Roadmap discussion at Facility Executive Live!, a one-day event to take place October 3, 2017 in downtown Chicago. This BOMI-accredited session is one of six topics at the conference. Click here to learn more about this event hosted by Facility Executive magazine.