Energy Department Invests $6 Million to Research Building Efficiency

WASHINGTON — The Energy Department is funding up to $6 million for four commercial building projects that will help guide owners as they look to adopt energy efficient technologies.
The department estimates commercial buildings consumed about 20 percent of all energy used in the U.S. last year, at a cost of about $180 billion. These buildings are responsible for 18 percent of total U.S. carbon emissions, the department said in a statement.

The federally funded projects will provide data, case studies and information about technologies, including advanced ventilation, building energy use optimization software, more efficient commercial refrigeration fan motors and advanced lighting controls.

Houston, Texas-based enVerid Systems will be part of the research. The company designs energy-saving technology for HVAC systems. enVerid will retrofit building ventilation systems with modules that remove indoor air pollutants such as carbon dioxide. Indoor air will be recycled while reducing the amount of outside air ventilated into the building and reducing the loads on the HVAC system. Ten separate commercial building demonstrations will be conducted over three years.

BuildingIQ in Foster City, Calif., which provides software solutions to optimize energy use, will use predictive energy optimization (PEO), a cloud-based software application that runs on top of existing building automation systems. PEO uses data from weather forecasts, utility tariffs, demand response event signals, and occupant schedules to automatically adjust energy-consuming building systems. These adjustments are based on building-specific modeling that PEO uses over time employing building use data, as well as predictive algorithms and advanced control strategies. Sixteen separate building demonstrations will be conducted.

QM Power, headquartered in Lee’s Summit, Mo., has developed high efficiency 7-16 watt fan motors that are often used in commercial refrigeration systems. QM Power plans to install and demonstrate approximately 12,000 high-efficiency fans in more than 50 grocery stores throughout the U.S., focusing on open display case retrofits that could result in significant efficiency improvements. If fully adopted, the motor application has the potential to achieve more than 0.6 quads in energy savings and reduce energy costs by $1 billion.

Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships in Lexington, Mass., plans to implement advanced lighting controls (ALCs), which turn off or dim lights when they are not in use. The project will demonstrate and evaluate two or more ALC technologies in 10 buildings, which should experience significant energy savings compared to a traditional lighting retrofit without controls. Designers and installers will be trained to use the technologies. The demonstration results will be used to support development of utility incentive programs to help further drive adoption of ACLs.