DOE Invests $74M In Building And Construction Technologies

The funding will help develop energy-efficient and flexible building technologies, systems, and construction practices to improve the energy performance of the nation’s buildings and electric grid.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will award $74 million to 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 nation’s buildings and electric grid. Awardees include National Laboratories, universities, small businesses, and industry partners.

Construction Technologies
ETH Zurich’s robot, In situ Fabricator, was used to build DFAB HOUSE in Switzerland, the world’s first home designed, planned, and built using predominantly digital processes. (Photo: Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy)

America’s 125 million residential and commercial buildings use more energy than any other sector in the U.S., accounting for 40% of the nation’s energy use and nearly 75% of its electricity consumption. These new research partnerships will pursue new technologies to enhance the energy productivity of buildings and improve the capacity of buildings to operate more flexibly.

“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 R. 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.”

Many of these projects will advance technologies to unlock deep energy savings through grid interactive efficient buildings and advanced building construction technologies and practices, without sacrificing the comfort of building occupants or the performance of labor-saving devices and equipment. 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.

Crucially, those projects are also required to address the cybersecurity of flexible buildings and verify the performance of their equipment. Other projects will focus on developing novel thermal energy storage materials, advancements in non-vapor compression HVAC technologies, fuel-driven building equipment, and solid-state lighting.

energy performance
(Image courtesy of OLEDWorks)

The awards will be distributed by the DOE’s Building Technologies Office (BTO) to projects in two categories: the Advanced Building Construction with Energy-Efficient Technologies & Practices (ABC) Funding Opportunity, and the Buildings Energy Efficiency Frontiers & Innovation Technologies (BENEFIT) – 2019 Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA)

In the first category, $26.3 million was awarded to 40 projects, led by 29 organizations, to pursue innovations that can advance ABC Funding Opportunity goals. This is one of BTO’s principal efforts to unlock deeper energy savings in the U.S. building sector, which still consumes 40% of the nation’s energy and 75% of its electricity. Through this funding, BTO is investing in new technologies that can enable superior building energy performance, without disrupting occupant comfort, and can be deployed quickly, affordably, with minimal onsite construction in the existing building stock as well as new construction.

In the second category, the BTO awarded $47.7 million to 23 projects, led by 19 organizations, to pursue innovations that can advance the BENEFIT FOA goals. This funding opportunity seeks to research and develop innovative technologies that will improve energy productivity, improve flexibility, security, and resiliency, as well as lower energy costs of the nation’s buildings and electric grid. The 2019 BENEFIT FOA focuses on three topic areas:

  • Flexible Building Technologies
  • Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) and Related Technologies
  • Solid-State Lighting (SSL) Technologies

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