Energy Efficient Technology for Facility Management

12/06/2012 |

New technologies that could have significant effects on the future of facility management continue to emerge.

What’s next for facility management?  Are you ready for some energy efficiency from the future?  Two Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory research projects were awarded grants by the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) to advance energy technologies. The two grants total nearly $5 million.

The first grant of $3 million went to the Molecular Foundry’s Delia Milliron for her work on smart window technologies. The project will seek to enhance the energy efficiency of buildings through advanced electrochromic windows with improved performance and low cost.

The second grant focuses on the creation of a system to “map” a building’s thermal use leading to more efficient design and construction. That grant is led by Environmental Energy Technology Division’s Philip Haves and is supported by $1.94 million from ARPA-E.

On November 28, Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced 66 cutting-edge research projects selected by ARPA-E to receive a total of $130 million in funding through its “OPEN 2012” program.

ARPA-E seeks out transformational, breakthrough technologies that show fundamental technical promise but are too early for private-sector investment. These projects have the potential to produce game-changing breakthroughs in energy technology, form the foundation for entirely new industries, and could have large commercial impacts.

The “Low Cost Solution Processed Universal Smart Window Coatings” project, awarded $3 million in ARPA-E funding, is a collaborative effort between Milliron’s research group at the Molecular Foundry and scientists in Berkeley Lab’s Environmental Energy Technologies Division (EETD), in partnership with Heliotrope Technologies.

The team aims to develop a new electrochromic window coating technology, which can respond to changing weather conditions by regulating the amounts of visible light and heat permitted to enter a building, dramatically reducing energy usage. Electrochromics currently on the market lack this flexibility and are prohibitively expensive. This project promises to address both of these issues, resulting in a new window that is scalable for manufacturing and affordable enough to stimulate widespread adoption.

“The ARPA-E proposal review process is highly competitive and selects for innovative concepts with the potential for major impact on the energy landscape. It is a real privilege to be awarded this grant,” says Milliron, Molecular Foundry Deputy Director and Principal Investigator of the electrochromic smart window project.

This new window coating will respond to a small, applied voltage to vary the transmittance of visible light and heat-producing near-infrared radiation (NIR). In this way, the sun’s power can be harnessed to permit maximal light and heat to enter in cold weather, while preventing unwanted heating and glare on hot, sunny days. Ultimately, such dynamic windows would be integrated with an intelligent control system to maximize energy savings and make buildings more comfortable.

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