This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

October 01, 2008

DOE Awards $15 Million to 21 Companies for Efficient Buildings

DOE announced on September 26 that it has selected 21 companies to receive $15 million as the first phase of awards for the Net-Zero Energy Commercial Building Initiative. DOE's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and National Renewable Energy Laboratory will work with each awardee to design, build, commission, and operate at least one new energy-efficient prototype building. Compared to similar new commercial buildings that meet the minimum requirements of standards set by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), the new prototype buildings will consume only half as much energy. The two national labs will also work with each company to retrofit one existing building to consume 30% less energy than a retrofitted building that meets the minimum ASHRAE standards. The building projects will use both cutting-edge energy efficiency technologies and on-site renewable power generation to reduce the energy use of the buildings.

The awardees for this phase of the award include retailers Best Buy, JCPenney, John Deere, Macy's, SuperValu, Target, Toyota, and Whole Foods Market; commercial real estate firms CB Richard Ellis, Forest City Enterprises, Hines, InterContinental Hotels Group, The Opus Group, ProLogis, Regency Centers, Ryan Companies US, Simon Property Group, Tishman Speyer, and The Westfield Group; and two financial institutions, namely, the Bank of America and the PNC Financial Services Group. The intent is to identify approaches that can be replicated across the nation, while gaining insight into private-sector decision processes, business models, and financial drivers for achieving low-energy buildings. See the DOE press release and DOE Building Technologies Program's list of commercial building energy alliances.

Meanwhile, on the residential side, DOE is working toward its goal of building a zero-energy home and has announced the formation of the Zero Energy Building Research Alliance, or ZEBRAlliance. Partners include DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), sponsored by DOE and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to conduct research and provide consumer education, and Schaad Companies, which is funding and building demonstration houses. The goal of the ZEBRAlliance is to create a home that generates more energy than it consumes, but costs the same to purchase and own as a typical house. Schaad will construct four homes in 2008 and ORNL and TVA will collect data from the houses and make modifications to ensure optimal efficiency. The initial demonstration homes will each employ a different strategy for constructing the home's shell, including Structural Insulated Panels, advanced wood framing, dynamic insulation that stores solar energy, and a conventional wood framing system with exterior insulation. Researchers will then test the affordability and performance of each. See the ORNL press release and the ZEBRAlliance Web site.