DOE Funds Energy Efficient Building Projects

FRIDAY, AUGUST 11, 2023


At the beginning of the week, the U.S. Department of Energy announced $46 million in funding to develop building technologies and retrofit practices to cut energy waste emissions in residential and commercial buildings. 

Part of the Buildings Energy Efficiency Frontiers and Innovation Technologies (BENEFIT) funding opportunity, the funds will reportedly help advance cost-effective solutions to electrify buildings while also improving their energy efficiency and demand flexibility.

Spanning across 15 states, the 29 projects receiving funding will support innovative decarbonization strategies that significantly reduce the building sector’s greenhouse gas emissions, eliminate unnecessary or wasteful energy consumption and reduce strain on the nation’s electric grid.

“Exploring new ways to build and operate America’s buildings is key to cutting harmful emissions and combatting the climate crisis,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. 

“With this funding, the Department is providing critical new resources to teams from across the nation to transform game-changing ideas into innovative solutions, creating safer and healthier homes and buildings while cutting energy costs.” 

The DOE reports that residential and commercial buildings are the largest energy consuming sector of the U.S. economy, responsible for approximately 40% of the nation’s energy consumption, 74% of its electricity use and 35% of its total carbon emissions. Estimates also indicate that roughly one-third or more of the energy used by buildings is wasted at a cost of $150 billion annually.

According to the release, the selected projects will drive innovations that help drive breakthroughs and continued progress. More than half of the 29 projects selected will reportedly pursue advancements to improve space conditioning and water heating, which accounts for just over half of all energy use in American homes, while the remaining projects will help advance other components impacting homes and commercial buildings.  

The full list of projects awarded funding can be found here.

The DOE notes that its Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) is accelerating the research, development, demonstration and deployment of technologies and solutions to support President Joe Biden’s plan to transition to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions economy-wide by 2050.

Federal Building Energy Standard

Last year, in April, the DOE released new building energy code requirements for federal buildings and proposed new standards for residential room air conditioners, pool heaters and other consumer appliances.

The efforts are expected to save taxpayer dollars and ensure that the federal government leads by example in energy efficiency. The announcement followed President Biden’s slate of priorities outlined in the bipartisan infrastructure law.

Given the proposed standards and new codes, the DOE estimates that together they could potentially save more than $15 billion in net costs over the next 30 years and reduce emissions equivalent to the annual carbon emissions of 14.4 million homes over the same period.

Then, at the end of last year, the Biden-Harris Administration announced the first-ever energy and climate performance standard for the federal government’s 300,000 existing buildings. Designed to jumpstart decarbonization in new and existing buildings, the Federal Building Performance Standard will electrify and cut emissions from new or newly renovated federal buildings.

According to the Administration at the time, energy usage in federal buildings for space heating, water heating, cooking and other needs accounts for over 25% of federal emissions.

The new standard requires that new and renovated federal buildings achieve zero scope 1 emissions in 30% of their buildings by square footage by 2030. To reach that mark, agencies will reportedly be buying American-made products such as heat pumps, electric water heaters, and other energy-efficiency and building system technologies supported by the Inflation Reduction Act.

Once fully adopted, the new rule is expected to save $8 million per year in building costs. Over a 30-year span, the new rule is projected to reduce carbon emissions from federal buildings by 1.86 million metric tons and methane emissions by 22.8 thousand tons.

On the same day the announcement for the new standard was made, the DOE released a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking public comment on a forthcoming rule, Clean Energy for New Federal Buildings and Major Renovations of Federal Buildings, to support building decarbonization.

The new rule also aims to set emissions reduction targets and require equipment and appliance electrification in new Federal buildings as well as Federal buildings undertaking major renovations.

   

Tagged categories: Commercial / Architectural; Commercial Buildings; Energy codes; Energy efficiency; Environmental Controls; Funding; Good Technical Practice; Government; Grants; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Projects - Commercial; Research and development; Residential; U.S. Department of Energy

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