Article Date: 04/19/2013

‘Emerging Technologies’ for Making Buildings More Energy Efficient Would Get an Increased Emphasis under Obama’s New Plan

By Steve Rizer


In its crusade to foster more energy-efficient buildings across America, the Obama administration wants to place a much larger financial emphasis on emerging technologies, according to ConstructionPro Week’s analysis of the recently released fiscal 2014 budget request. The administration is seeking $300 million for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Building Technologies Program (BTP), but only the “Emerging Technologies” subprogram within BTP would receive more than a $15.254-million boost above the FY’12 enacted level. With an extra $70.056 million to work with in this subprogram, what would DOE be doing to advance such technologies?


Drawing upon a budget of $131.74 million in FY’14, the Emerging Technologies subprogram would “pursue improvements in major energy end uses and the building envelope while increasing its R&D [research and development] focus in sensors and controls, particularly around whole building and grid integration,” the administration stated. The subprogram funds R&D of what DOE considers “cost-effective, energy-efficient building technologies [that are] within five years of commercialization.”


The subprogram pursues the following technologies:


Sensors and Controls -- Low-cost “smart” sensors and sensor systems, fault detection and diagnostic algorithm development, and open architecture building controls platform to enable enhanced communication and control within and outside of a building.


Lighting -- Advanced solid-state lighting systems, including core technology research and development, manufacturing R&D, and market development.


Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning -- Heat pumps, heat exchangers, and working fluids.


Building Envelope -- Highly insulated and dynamic windows, cool roofs, building thermal insulation, façades, daylighting, and fenestration.


Water Heating -- Heat pump water heaters and solar water heaters.


Appliances -- Refrigerators, clothes washers, and clothes dryers, etc.


Building Energy Modeling Tools -- EnergyPlus whole building simulation, software calibration and verification, user interface, and middleware applications.


BTP uses an integrated, three-pronged approach in an effort to deliver energy and consumer cost savings via R&D, market stimulation, and codes and standards.


DOE believes the development and deployment of technologies and systems that BTP supports will be able to reduce building energy use by 50 percent by 2030. “Achieving BTP’s goal of a 50 percent reduction in primary energy consumption by 2030 could lead to nationwide annual energy savings of approximately $128 billion, assuming a primary energy use multiplier of three for electricity. This equates to energy savings per capita of [about] $350 per year, using the U.S. Census Bureau estimate of the 2030 population.” Through BTP, the department is targeting energy savings of 70 percent in lighting, 60 percent in water heating, 40 percent in HVAC/building envelope, 20 percent in appliances, and 20 percent in building controls.



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