The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced it will offer up to $33.5 million in funding for the research and development of projects aimed at reducing energy bills through advanced building construction techniques. According to the DOE, commercial and residential buildings account for approximately 40 percent of the nation’s total energy demand, costing more than $380 billion in energy annually. Through the latest funding opportunity, officials for the department say they hope to find energy-efficient technologies that can apply to both new and existing commercial and residential buildings.

While an ideal project would address a combination of issues across areas such as heating, cooling, the building envelope, water heating and ventilation, funding applications should focus on one of three topics:

  • Advanced Technology Integration: including projects that concentrate on taking technologies from the laboratory to the field, in order to meet national, regional, state and local needs. Energy savings methods in this category focus on workforce training, service delivery methods and field validation of new technologies and building practices.
  • Integrated Building Retrofits: which concentrate on existing buildings, including technologies that aim to achieve greater energy-efficiency through combined space heating and cooling systems, hot water systems and light and durable, highly-insulated panels. The goal under this topic is to achieve 75-percent energy reductions.
  • New Construction Technologies: which focus on innovative approaches to a building’s design, construction and installation. Through advancements in robotics, digitalization, off-site manufacturing, improved modeling and automation, the goal for projects within this topic is to make buildings and homes 50 percent more energy efficient than current code requirements.

Funding for projects is issued through the DOE’s Building Technology Office (BTO). Through research and development, the BTO aims to find new, energy-efficient technologies while improving the efficiency of current technologies to help the department realize its goal for reducing the energy use of U.S. buildings by 30 percent by 2030.

The DOE’s subprogram for Emerging Technologies in building envelopes and windows includes a focus on next-generation fenestration products. At the department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), researchers conduct research and development, as well as provide testing and demonstrations for products before commercialization. In recent years, the laboratory has conducted tests on low-cost nanostructured smart window coatings—a project that received $1,150,000 in DOE funding.

According to information published by DOE, since 1983, its NREL researchers have worked to develop “smart” windows, including a “neutral-colored dynamic glass solution that seeks to achieve cost neutrality with conventional window solutions.”

Other emerging technologies that the BTO programs are currently dedicated to include: HVAC, water heating and appliances; solid-state lighting; building energy modeling; sensors and controls; and buildings-to-grid integration.

Applicants for the BTO funding opportunity have until June 10, 2019, to submit concept papers.