DOE invests $61 million in ‘smart building’ energy efficiency projects

Aiming to deploy clean energy resources in densely-populated urban areas, a partnership will unlock $55 million for community solar project development in New York City. (Courtesy: Ben O'Bro/Unsplash)

The U.S. Dept. of Energy is backing 10 energy efficiency pilot projects that aim to transform thousands of homes and workplaces into resilient smart buildings.

DOE is providing $61 million for the "Connected Communities" program, which will equip buildings with smart controls, sensors, and analytics to reduce energy use, costs, and emissions.

“From our homes to workplaces, this groundbreaking, grid-connected building technology will help reduce our impact while cutting energy bills, maximizing convenience, and propelling our efforts to reach a carbon-neutral, clean energy economy by 2050,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “These projects will help universalize technology that can maximize the efficiency and sustainability of America’s nearly 130 million buildings and make significant headway in the fight against climate change.” 


Read more: How states can collaborate on offshore wind to meet ambitious goals in the U.S.


Grid-interactive efficient buildings (GEBs) could deliver $100-200 billion in savings to the U.S. power system and cut CO2 emissions by 80 million tons per year by 2030, according to a study conducted by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Brattle Group.

So-called "smart neighborhoods" in Alabama and Georgia have used approximately 42-44% less energy than the current average all-electric home, the DOE added.

Projects selected:

  • Electric Power Research Institute, Inc. (New York City, Seattle, San Diego) will transform multi-family buildings in affordable housing developments into GEBs that will demonstrate different ways to decarbonize buildings, make them more resilient, and reduce utility bills. (Award amount: $5.27M)
  • IBACOS, Inc. (NC) will deploy a coordinated control program to optimize the energy use of a comprehensive mix of distributed energy resources in 1,000 new and existing homes, including single-family and multifamily homes and both owner-occupied and rental properties. (Award amount: $6.65M)
  • Open Market ESCO Limited Liability Company (MA) will bring the benefits of efficiency, demand flexibility, renewable generation, and energy storage with more affordable renovations in up to 20 low-to-moderate-income apartment communities. (Award amount: $6.65M) 
  • PacifiCorp (UT) will establish a program to manage solar photovoltaic, batteries, electric vehicle charging in a diverse community of all-electric buildings and a mass transit transportation center, equipped with the latest market-leading efficient technologies to optimize their collective energy use and provide grid services at scale.(Award amount: $6.42M) 
  • Portland General Electric (OR) will renovate over 500 buildings in North Portland’s historically underserved neighborhoods to reduce their energy burden with numerous energy efficiency measures and connected devices that provide the grid with a range on energy services. (Award amount: $6.65M) 
  • Post Road Foundation (ME, NH) will investigate the capacity of a novel Transactive Energy Service System to harmonize communications and optimize energy use among the distributed energy resources, local energy markets, and buildings of three rural communities. (Award amount: $6.65M) 
  • Slipstream Group Inc. (WI) will convert approximately 15 facilities in Madison, Wisconsin into GEBs that connect with nearby electric vehicle charging stations to establish a scalable business model for utilities to install demand flexibility and energy efficiency upgrades across multiple building sizes in public and private sectors.(Award amount: $5.18M) 
  • Spokane Edo LLC (WA) will unlock demand flexibility up to 2.25 megawatt (MW) using flexible loads in residential and commercial buildings augmented by distributed energy resources within Spokane, Washington’s Opportunity Zones of vulnerable populations. (Award amount: $6.65M) 
  • SunPower Corporation (CA) will build tomorrow’s homes today in two communities of all-electric homes in Menifee, California that meet DOE’s zero-energy-ready home qualifications and feature solar energy, home energy management systems, and community-scale battery storage. (Award amount: $6.65M) 
  • The Ohio State University (OH) will investigate the capacity of Ohio State’s existing on-campus connected community to provide essential but overlooked ancillary grid services from a diverse range of grid-interactive technologies in a cyber- and data-secure environment. (Award amount: $4.2M) 

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John Engel is the Content Director for Renewable Energy World. For the past decade, John has worked as a journalist across various mediums -- print, digital, radio, and television -- covering sports, news, and politics. He lives in Asheville, North Carolina with his wife, Malia. Have a story idea or a pitch for Renewable Energy World? Email John at john.engel@clarionevents.com.

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