Government Unveils Roadmaps to Use Renewables in Buildings

The building industry in the United States and the Department of Energy have launched a 20 year plan to make homes more energy efficient for their occupants.

WASHINGTON, DC, US, 2001-05-15 <SolarAccess.com> The Building Envelope Technology Roadmap will promote cooperation among researchers, industry and governments to increase the energy efficiency of homes and to make them better for the environment. The document addresses industry trends such as consumer demand for reduced environmental impact, as well as technological developments and market barriers to new innovations. “While the Energy Department has invested in technologies that make buildings more energy efficient for many years, this new roadmap reflects a new way of doing business,” says Energy secretary Spencer Abraham. “This roadmap will help business and government better align our research, development, and deployment priorities and leverage our resources for greater impact.” “Greater cost-competitiveness of photovoltaics, fuel cells and combined heat and power, coupled with the purchasing flexibility created by utility restructuring, will make on-site power generation an increasingly viable option for commercial buildings,” says the roadmap. “Shrinking capacity margins in baseload power generation, and resulting concerns about the reliability of power, will further fuel this trend.” “Demand will also grow for energy-efficient buildings, particularly in areas with relatively high power costs or reliability concerns,” it continues. “Any future controls on carbon dioxide emissions will accelerate the demand for green power, renewable energy, and energy efficiency. healthy, productive, and desirable places to learn, work and play.” By 2020, the building industry in the U.S. envisions building envelopes that are net producers of energy, with movable walls and rooms that adapt to changing needs and environmental factors. Intelligent features will adjust the interior climate based on the weather and provide naturally derived lighting and ventilation to enhance comfort and occupant health. “That commercial buildings can be dramatically reshaped in the coming decades by combining the results of sound, but separate, research in such fields as energy-efficient building shells, equipment, lighting, daylighting, windows, passive and active solar, photovoltaic, fuel cells, advanced sensors and controls, and combined heating, cooling, and power,” explains the document. “Such technologies, together with a whole-buildings approach that optimizes interactions among building systems and components, will enable commercial buildings to respond effectively to the changing needs of today’s businesses, while also helping to meet our national goals of environmental protection and sustainable development.” Homes and their construction will be resource-efficient, and increased durability will reduce maintenance effort and cost. The amount of construction time, material used, energy consumption and cost will be less than today. The industry identified 120 activities where government and industry research could work together, and DOE has already started realigning its research and deployment portfolio to match the industry’s recommendations. DOE will use competitive solicitations to select projects based on energy impact and consistency with the roadmap. The Office of Building Technology, State & Community Programs will develop a series of roadmaps to improve energy efficiency of homes, schools and commercial buildings. The effort has already relied on 500 industry officials working on four building segments: windows, lighting, high performance commercial buildings, and the building envelope.

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