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DOE awards $46 million from 2022/23 BENEFIT funding to 29 projects

Aug. 8, 2023
Located across 15 states, the residential and commercial building projects will deploy innovative decarbonization strategies, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

On Aug. 7, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced $46 million for 29 projects across 15 states to develop advanced building technologies and retrofit practices that enable healthier households and communities and reduce energy waste. The Buildings Energy Efficiency Frontiers and Innovation Technologies (BENEFIT) funding opportunity will help advance cost-effective solutions to successfully electrify buildings across the nation while also improving their energy efficiency and demand flexibility. These projects support innovative decarbonization strategies that, when deployed widely and properly, significantly reduce the building sector’s greenhouse gas emissions, eliminate unnecessary or wasteful energy consumption, and reduce strain on the nation’s electric grid.

“Exploring new ways to build and operate America’s buildings is key to cutting harmful emissions and combatting the climate crisis,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm in the press release. “With this funding, the Department is providing critical new resources to teams from across the nation to transform game-changing ideas into innovative solutions, creating safer and healthier homes and buildings while cutting energy costs.” 

Residential and commercial buildings are the largest energy consuming sector of the U.S. economy, responsible for approximately 40% of the nation’s energy consumption, 74% of its electricity use, and 35% of its total carbon emissions. Estimates indicate roughly one-third, or more, of the energy used by buildings is wasted at a cost of $150 billion annually. Utilizing current technologies and developing new innovations are essential to ensuring buildings across America can quickly and more effectively improve their energy efficiency and decarbonize their on-site processes while advancing environmental and energy justice priorities.

The 29 projects were chosen through a competitive selection process that evaluated their technical merit and likelihood of achieving the DOE’s Building Technologies Office’s objectives. More than half of the 29 projects selected will pursue advancements to improve space conditioning and water heating, which accounts for just over half of all energy use in American homes. The remaining projects will help advance other components affecting residential commercial buildings. 

Several of the projects are listed below. For the more information on the projects, visit the DOE announcement “Meet DOE’s Newest Research Projects from BENEFIT 22–23.”

Topic 1: Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning and Water Heating – Technologies with improved materials, components, equipment design and engineering, lower cost manufacturing processes, and easier installation.

Subtopic 1A: Components R&D for Residential and Commercial HVAC/WH Air-Source Heat Pump

  • North Carolina State University, North Carolina – Next-Generation Nature-Inspired Variable Capacity Evaporators for Low-GWP Blended Refrigerants. Award amount: $1.4 million.
  • OTS R&D Inc., Maryland – Enabling Vapor Injection Compressors in Next-Generation Heat Pumps. Award amount: $1 million.
  • Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Technology Institute (AHRTI), Virginia – Two-Phase Heat Transfer and Pressure Drop Characterization of Low Global Warming Potential Refrigerants, and Implementation on Heat Exchangers and System Models. Award amount: $1.8 million.
  • University of Maryland: College Park, Maryland – Next-Generation Liquid-to-Refrigerant Heat Exchangers for Heat Pumps, Water Heaters, and Refrigeration Systems (NG-LRHX). Award amount: $1.4 million.

Subtopic 1B: HVAC/WH Cost Compression Solutions

  • Colorado School of Mines, Colorado – 30-40 Gallon Heat Pump Water Heater with Latent Heat Storage for Multiple Flexibility Modes in Low-Income Housing. Award amount: $2.1 million

Subtopic 1C: Commercial Low GWP Cold Climate Rooftop Heat Pump

  • Purdue University, Indiana – Commercial Cold Climate Rooftop Heat Pump Using CO2/Propane Cascaded with a Centrifugal System. Award amount: $2 million.
  • University of Maryland: College Park, Maryland – Smart Cold Climate Rooftop Heat Pump with Low-GWP Refrigerant. Award amount: $2.3 million.

Subtopic 1D: Commercial Heat Pump Water Heater Development and Demonstration

  • New Buildings Institute, Oregon – Made in America Grid Integrated Commercial HPWH Systems (MAGIC HPWHs). Award amount: $2.3 million.
  • Electric Power Research Institute Inc., Washington, D.C. – Field Demonstration of Cold Climate Heat Pump Water Heaters for Multifamily Buildings. Award amount: $0.8 million.
  • D&R International, Ltd., Maryland – Scaling Up: Demonstrating Risk Reduction and Cost Compression for Commercial HPWHs. Award amount: $2.5 million.

Topic 2: Thermal Energy Storage (TES): Development and validation of next-generation plug-and-play TES products with improved cost and performance and ease of installation to accelerate adoption of TES in HVAC applications.

  • University of Wisconsin: Madison, Wisconsin – Thermal Storage-Ready High-Performance Multisplit Heat Pump System. Award amount: $2.5 million.
  • Copeland, Ohio – Multifunctional HVAC Platform with Modular Thermal Storage. Award amount: $2 million.
  • Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia – Design and Integration of Thermochemical Energy Storage (TCES) into Buildings for Load Shedding/Shifting. Award amount: $2.4 million.
  • University of Maryland: College Park, Maryland – Low Cost and High Performance Modular Thermal Energy Storage for Building Equipment. Award amount: $1.3 million.

Topic 3: Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS): Development, validation, and demonstration of product innovations that reduce the cost of BESS integration, improve the coordination between distributed BESS and the electrical grid, as well as help meet building decarbonization targets.

Subtopic 3A: Innovative BESS Integration and Coordination Strategies

  • Gridscape Solutions, California – Smart Energy Storage Integration and Management Platform for Buildings (SESIMP-B). Award amount: $1.5 million.
  • Eaton, Ohio – Low-Cost, Grid-Interactive Uninterruptible Power Supply for Building Energy Storage. Award amount: $1.5 million.
  • Channing Street Copper Company, California – REST NET: Residential Energy Storage Transition and Network Efficiency Tactic. Award amount: $1.5 million.
  • Blip Energy Inc., Illinois – Low Cost IoT BESS System Using Second Life Cells. Award amount: $1.1 million.
  • Southern Company Services, Georgia – Deep Integration of BESS into an Existing Large Commercial Building Automation System with HVAC, Solar and EV Charging for Achieving Net Zero Carbon. Award amount: $1.5 million.

Subtopic 3B: Net-Zero Emissions BESS Demonstration and Analysis

  • Colorado School of Mines, Colorado – Analysis and Field Validation Home Battery Energy Storage Systems for Affordable Housing. Award amount: $1.5 million.
  • Johns Hopkins University, Maryland – Western-Based Analysis of Distributed Battery Storage System Emission Benefits and Tradeoffs. Award amount: $1.5 million.

Topic 4: Plug Loads/Lighting: Integration of plug load controls with connected lighting systems in commercial buildings with minimal cost and complexity to support building electrification.

  • University of California: San Diego, California – Optimized Commercial Control Technology of Plug-Loads and Lighting (OCCTOPI), an open-source software for affordably integrating plug load and lighting controls in commercial buildings. Award amount: $0.6 million.

Topic 5: Opaque Building Envelope: Development, validation, and demonstration of high-impact, affordable. opaque building envelope retrofit and diagnostic technologies.

Subtopic 5A: R5+ Insulated Cladding for Residential Field Applied Applications

  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, New York – Hemp Retrofit SIPS (HeRS): Hemp-Based Insulated Siding for Residential Retrofit Applications. Award amount: $1.5 million.
  • Liatris Inc., Maryland – R-5+ Retrofit Cladding System with Low-Cost Clay Cellulose Insulation. Award amount: $1.2 million.

Subtopic 5B: Cost Compression Solutions for Building Insulation Retrofit Technologies

  • Highland Park Technologies, LLC, Massachusetts – A Tight Enclosure on the Path to Net Zero. Award amount: $1.5 million.
  • University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee – Cost-Compression Solution for Continuous Insulation Retrofit via Spray-on Monolithic Insulated Cladding (MonoInsu). Award amount: $1.5 million.

Subtopic 5C: Air Leakage Diagnostic and Air-Sealing Technologies

  • Center for Energy and Environment, Minnesota – Innovative Aerosol Sealing of Occupied Residences. Award amount: $0.8 million.
  • New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, New Mexico – Real-Time Building Air Leakage Visualizer. Award amount: $1.5 million.
  • Hearth Labs (transferred from GTI Energy), New York – Using Noninvasive Scanning for Envelope Assessments with LiDAR Enhanced Diagnostics and Air Infiltration Results (UNSEALED-AIR). Award amount: $1.5 million.

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