DOE Seeks Building-Envelope Innovations


Uncle Sam is ready to spend up to $14 million to advance innovative, energy-efficient technologies and design tools for commercial and/or residential buildings.

Window innovations, thermal insulation materials, and other building-envelope technologies are among the areas that the U.S. Department of Energy’s Building Technologies Office is most interested in funding, according to a Feb. 4 announcement.

Individuals, corporations, universities, non-profit organizations and national labs are all invited to apply.

To be eligible, a concept paper must be submitted no later than March 6. A full application is due April 21.

Two Focus Areas

The Building Energy Efficiency Frontiers and Incubator Technologies (BENEFIT) funding opportunity covers two  areas: incubators and frontiers (innovations).

Funding for incubators will support innovative R&D activities not currently represented in the Building Technologies Office portfolio.

“Successful incubator projects will reduce the risk associated with breakthrough approaches and technologies, and serve as viable candidates for inclusion in future program roadmaps,” the announcement said.


DOE propels building energy performance through the development and promotion of efficient, affordable, high-impact technologies, systems, and practices. The long-term goal of the Building Technologies Office is to reduce energy use by 50 percent from a 2010 baseline.

Frontiers will support roadmap-driven R&D activities that contribute to core program technological areas.

The awards are expected to range from $500,000 to $1 million for incubators and $500,000 to $2 million for frontiers. Final funding is subject to congressional appropriations.

Topic details as provided in the announcement follow.


  • Open Topic for Energy Efficiency Solutions for Residential and Commercial Buildings: To include developing approaches and technologies for HVAC, water heating, lighting, building envelope (including windows), sensors and controls, and building energy modeling.
  • Innovative Sensors and Sensor Systems: To include developing technologies under the following subtopics:
    • Reductions in cost and power consumption for data collection of common building operation variables (temperature, pressure, relative humidity, etc.);
    • Open-source sensor packages that allow for data acquisition and transmission with increased lifespan between manual calibrations;
    • "Virtual sensors" enabled by innovative combinations of hardware and software; and
    • Easily installed "plug and play" sensor packages in which sensors are automatically recognized by building energy management.

Frontiers (Innovations)

  • Advanced Energy-Efficient Clothes Dryers: To include developing both vented and ventless clothes dryers that increase the energy factor at or exceeding the maximum technical values as described by DOE’s recent rulemaking for clothes dryers, produce a simple payback of less than 5 years over a minimum efficiency standard unit, and do not increase drying times more than 20 percent over base units and address lint in system.
  • Highly Insulating Building Envelope Components: To include the following sub- topics:
    • The transparent building envelope: Developing window technologies with R ≥ 7 ft² h F° Btu-1 (residential; cost premium less than $6/ft²) and R ≥ 5 ft² h F° Btu-1 (commercial; cost premium less than $3/ft²) that offer a visible transmittance greater than 0.6 (residential) and 0.4 (commercial).
    • The opaque building envelope: Developing building envelope thermal insulation material with R ≥ 8/inch, at an installed cost premium of less than $0.30/ft². It can be added to either the exterior or interior walls in existing buildings, meet existing durability (fire, structure, moisture, acoustic code) requirements, and minimize occupant disturbance. 

Additional Details

The Building Technologies Office will present two webinars on the funding opportunity: 3-4 p.m. Feb. 7 and 3-4 p.m. March 25. Space is limited.

More information: E-mail


Tagged categories: Building envelope; Building Envelope; Coatings technology; Energy efficiency; Funding; Research; U.S. Department of Energy; Windows

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