The Energy Department announced $600,000 in funding to help American universities to establish stronger partnerships with industry and business in the area of building efficiency, supporting the Obama Administration’s goal of doubling energy productivity by 2030 and developing the nation’s clean energy workforce.
A recent study by the National Research Council found that increasing the competitiveness of American universities in building energy efficiency research and development is of great importance, and that universities need to develop stronger partnerships with business and industry in this area. In addition, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers has emphasized the need for expanding manufacturing education at all levels, including undergraduate and graduate students.
The selections for the Building University Innovators and Leaders Development (BUILD) awards support efforts by American universities to more effectively compete for building energy efficiency research and development funding, develop partnerships with industry, and improve manufacturing education. Each selected project will receive $200,000 in funding; more than 50% of expenditures in each project will be used to support undergraduate students.
The projects selected for award negotiations are:
• Drexel University, Philadelphia: The project will develop an innovative and cost-effective automated fault detection and diagnostics tool that integrates statistical process control, machine learning, and rule-based methods to reduce building energy consumption. To enhance the tool’s plug-and-play capability and potential market penetration, it will be compatible with VOLTTRON, an open-source software platform that is highly interoperable.
• Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta: Will support 20 student project teams in developing building energy efficiency technologies through a capstone design project. Students will gain hands-on product design experience, including the manufacturing and testing of a prototype solution, as well as publically demonstrating the solution at the Capstone Design Expo. Student teams partner with company sponsors, which will foster student employment in the building energy efficiency sector.
• University of California, Davis: Will have undergraduate students work with industry partners to develop and validate a new EnergyPlus solution to model hybrid rooftop air conditioners. This model will integrate the function of multiple cooling elements to gain climate-specific advantages in comfort and efficiency.
The Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) accelerates development and facilitates deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and market-based solutions that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality. EERE supports innovative technologies that reduce both risk and costs of bringing energy efficient building technologies online.