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

June 23, 2010

DOE Awards $76 Million for Energy-Efficient Building Technologies

DOE announced on June 17 awards totaling more than $76 million in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to support advanced energy-efficient building technology projects. The research is designed to help make buildings more energy efficient and cost-effective. The Recovery Act funds will also be used to develop training programs for commercial building equipment technicians, building operators, and energy auditors. Those initiatives will prepare workers to service and operate new and existing buildings, to develop and deploy best practices resulting in fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and to establish a green workforce with technical expertise to reduce energy costs for consumers. The 58 selected projects are in 24 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Buildings account for about 40% of the energy used in the United States, as well as 39% of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions.

To boost advanced energy-efficient building technologies, DOE made 45 awards totaling more than $68.4 million, while leveraging an additional $31.4 million from private industry. The projects are in six technical areas: advanced building control strategies for net-zero energy buildings; improved capabilities to simulate complex interactions between building elements and energy costs; new technologies for building envelopes and windows; increased efficiencies for residential and commercial heating, ventilation, and air conditioning; improved water heating; and methods to reduce miscellaneous electrical loads. For example, the University of Washington will develop detailed energy simulation models for the design of hospitals that use 60% less energy than typical hospitals in the Pacific Northwest. And Syntroleum Corporation of Oklahoma will investigate the use of low-cost bioproducts for phase-change materials in building walls and roofs. Materials that change phase can store more energy than traditional building materials, allowing them to absorb heat on sunny winter days and release that heat during the night. See the DOE press release, the list of awards (PDF 115 KB), and the Web site for DOE's Building Technologies Program. Download Adobe Reader.

As an example of the positive impact that efficiency measures can bring to the built environment, DOE also released a new video that showcases the story of Greensburg, Kansas, which has recovered from a 2007 tornado to become one of the top U.S. communities in terms of sustainable energy use. Many of the town's government buildings use cutting-edge energy-saving technologies, such as high-efficiency windows, lighting, and heating and ventilation systems, saving local taxpayer money. View the YouTube video.