On behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Building America Program, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) on March 29 opened a request for proposals (RFP) for multi-disciplinary expert teams to address what the program reckons as the hard-to-solve technical challenges of decarbonizing the existing U.S. residential housing stock.
DOE’s Building America Program has been a source of innovations in residential building energy efficiency and performance, indoor air quality and comfort, durability, quality, and affordability for over 25 years. The program leverages cutting-edge building science research to develop the solutions and best practices needed to advance energy efficiency in homes.
Per the program, applicant teams for the new RFP will consist of community organizations, research institutions, utility and industry trades, and other appropriate experts. Multi-disciplinary teams will bring together expertise in community engagement, retrofit demonstration, research, implementation, and industry to address the difficult technical challenges of decarbonizing the existing U.S. residential housing stock.
According to the RFP, teams will work with communities to conduct collaborative research and demonstration projects in real-world homes, with the aim of accelerating local deployment of highly energy efficient, durable, healthy home upgrades. This work will demonstrate equitable and scalable residential retrofit solutions and will produce guidance for broader implementation in communities across the country.
Teams selected through the RFP will develop projects focused on reducing carbon emissions from homes through retrofit solutions. They will collaborate with DOE, the National Labs, and other industry experts to support community-focused retrofit projects.
Selected projects will address technical challenges through field validation and demonstration, measurement and verification, and workforce training. This work will demonstrate equitable and scalable residential retrofit solutions and will produce guidance for broader implementation in communities across the country, as stated by the program.
Through the formation of the program's expert teams, and the development of community-focused projects, the challenges that are relevant to reducing the lifecycle carbon emissions of homes through retrofit projects will be studied. As stated by the program, technical challenges will be addressed through field validation and demonstration, measurement and verification, and through workforce training.
Multi-project data will be analyzed to compare and validate proven solutions. Actionable guidance will be developed and disseminated to share technical best practices, implementation, commercialization, and workforce successes.
Per the RFP, applying teams should adhere to these qualifications:
- Team lead: Engage with multiple communities to identify needs and appropriate solutions to challenges; lead and coordinate retrofit demonstration and validation projects
- Research member: Apply energy and building science expertise; modeling, design, analysis, and best practice expertise; conduct data collection
- Implementation member: Provide extensive knowledge of programmatic levers, models, and limitations; demonstrated capabilities in retrofit deployment; navigate finance mechanisms and incentive structures
- Industry member: Provide perspective informed by market conditions on integration and installation challenges and opportunities; align technical solutions with business models.
Eric Werling, Building America National Director, commented:
“This new generation of Building America industry teams will put building science experts on the ground in communities that are tackling the hardest challenges of decarbonizing homes in their region. The Building America Retrofit Solutions Teams will leverage technical expertise and grassroots community knowledge to create collaborative research and demonstration projects in real-world homes that will accelerate local deployments of highly energy-efficient, durable, and healthy home upgrades. Building America has done it before with new homes. The program is now focused on scalable retrofit solutions needed to meet President Biden’s goal of cutting U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030.”