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ETH Zurich’s robot, In situ Fabricator, was used to build DFAB HOUSE in Switzerland, the world’s first home designed, planned, and built using predominantly digital processes.
ETH Zurich’s robot, In situ Fabricator, was used to build DFAB HOUSE in Switzerland, the world’s first home designed, planned, and built using predominantly digital processes.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Building Technologies Office (BTO) awarded $26.3 million to 40 competitively selected projects, led by 29 organizations, to pursue innovations that can advance the goals of BTO's Advanced Building Construction with Energy-Efficient Technologies & Practices (ABC) Funding Opportunity. The funding opportunity underpins the Advanced Building Construction Initiative, one of BTO’s principal efforts to unlock deeper energy savings in the U.S. building sector, which still consumes 40% of the nation’s energy and 75% of its electricity.

Through this funding opportunity, BTO is investing in new technologies that can enable superior building energy performance, without disrupting occupant comfort, and can be deployed quickly, affordably, with minimal onsite construction in the existing building stock as well as new construction.

The following 14 projects were selected under Topic 1: Integrated Building Retrofit:

  • Syracuse University (Syracuse, New York) will develop a novel overclad panel energy-efficiency retrofit with integrated heating, cooling and water heating for homes in cold/very cold climates.
  • Princeton University (Mercer, New Jersey) will use dehumidifying membranes to create novel facade-integrated building screen retrofits to reduce a building’s cooling and ventilation energy use.
  • Open Market ESCO LLC (Boston, Massachusetts) will focus on streamlined deep energy retrofit construction in multifamily public housing with financing, contractor, and resident collaboration.
  • Home Innovation Research Labs Inc. (Upper Marlboro, Maryland) will develop a next-generation panelized wall retrofit that uses integrated vacuum-insulated panel technology.
  • Rocky Mountain Institute (Boulder, Colorado) will design and fabricate an integrated mechanical system pod for whole-home panelized retrofits of multifamily buildings.
  • The University of Central Florida Board of Trustees (Orlando, Florida) will create a pre-packaged, highly efficient, and resilient retrofit solution that integrates solar power to meet space heating and cooling as well as water heating needs.
  • Fraunhofer USA Center for Manufacturing Innovation (Brookline, Massachusetts) will develop customizable prefabricated insulated panel blocks that greatly reduce the on-site labor and installed cost of high-performance exterior wall retrofits for low-rise residential buildings in cold, very cold, and mixed humid climates. 
  • Signetron Inc. (Berkeley, California) will streamline the building information modeling, computer aided-design, and computer-aided manufacturing conversion and workflow of panelized retrofit manufacturing for building envelope retrofits.
  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) (Golden, Colorado) will undertake two projects to develop:
    • A zonal heat pump for whole-home panelized retrofits
    • A computerized workflow for panelized retrofits including pre-retrofit data collection, panel design, off-site manufacturing, and on-site installation
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) (Oak Ridge, Tennessee) has four projects that will:
    • Design energy-efficient and moisture-durable composite overclad panels for envelope retrofits by tailoring designs for optimized use of fiber reinforcement; using recycled materials; and developing designs that enable modularization, digital manufacturing and fast assembly for quick customization
    • Develop a wall-embedded multifunctional heat pump with energy storage systems for grid-responsive and weather-transactive controls
    • Create a building envelope retrofit using insulation-inflatable walls assisted by automation, including robotic plastic welders and 3D-reconstruction
    • Use advanced additive manufacturing techniques to customize and produce energy-efficient and moisture-durable overclad panels for building retrofits

The following seven projects were selected under Topic 2: New Construction Technologies projects:

  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) (Oak Ridge, Tennessee) will develop new sealant formulations that can be integrated and preinstalled into prefabricated components to decrease the amount of time it takes to seal joints between panels and modules at the jobsite.
  • Simple Homes LLC (Denver, Colorado) will develop a new integrated process for design, manufacture, and assembly of off-site panelized construction systems that will reduce costs and construction time, and improve performance of zero-energy-ready single-family homes.
  • Gas Technology Institute (Des Plaines, Illinois) will use enhanced factory automation and an integrated information technology system for modular home production facilities to reduce the cost of high-performance homes.
  • University of Notre Dame (Notre Dame, Indiana) will pursue additive manufacturing of reinforced concrete structures with integrated insulation for improved energy efficiency.
  • Cold Climate Housing Research Center (Fairbanks, Alaska) will develop a high-performance vacuum-insulated panel modular building system.
  • Vermont Energy Investment Corp. (Burlington, Vermont) will develop a state-of-the-art zero energy modular (ZEM) home construction system, including designs for a ZEM factory and a ZEM multifamily affordable housing unit.
  • Slipstream Group Inc. (Madison, Wisconsin) will evaluate and field test new approaches for delivering space heating and cooling in manufactured homes to improve energy efficiency, durability, and indoor air quality without increasing costs.

The following 19 projects were selected under Topic 3: Advanced Technology Integration:

  • Rocky Mountain Institute (Boulder, Colorado) will establish a national collaborative of building and construction stakeholders to accelerate the development, demonstration and standardization of innovative high-performance construction technologies, with a focus on modular, off-site, and prefabricated technologies to improve energy affordability and performance.
  • Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (Middlesex, Massachusetts) will field-validate the energy performance and refrigerant leakage of Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) systems in cold climates.
  • Newport Partners (Davidsonville, Maryland) will undertake two projects that:
    • Develop and validate advanced controls for hybrid heat pump and furnace systems in existing cold-climate homes that provide energy efficiency and grid benefits
    • Deliver an advanced and interactive workforce training program with emphasis on advanced technologies, building science, and design and construction insights
  • Elevate Energy (Chicago, Illinois) will conduct a building stock analysis and validation of advanced energy technologies in Chicago single-family homes.
  • Institute for Market Transformation (Washington, D.C) will field-validate energy systems targeting data from large commercial buildings and complex mechanical systems.
  • Cold Climate Housing Research Center (Fairbanks, Alaska) will validate the climatic boundaries and impacts on the electric grid of increased adoption of ductless air source heat pump technology in home energy retrofit programs.
  • International Center for Appropriate and Sustainable Technology (Lakewood, Colorado) will field test very high-efficiency (VHE) heat pump HVAC and domestic hot water technologies at multifamily properties to validate key performance metrics and de-risk adoption for the multifamily market.
  • City University of New York: City College (New York, New York) will conduct a data-driven commercial building technology inventory, analysis and technical assistance for New York City.
  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln (Lincoln, Nebraska) will conduct a field assessment of commercial and multifamily modular buildings compared to traditional construction methods.
  • Slipstream Group Inc. (Madison, Wisconsin) will validate and conduct technology analyses of integrating connected lighting, automated shades, and intelligent energy storage to provide grid-interactive flexible building loads.
  • Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (Middlesex, Massachusetts) will develop a protocol to enable virtual energy assessments and provide technical assistance for prefabricated and modular construction methods.
  • Interstate Renewable Energy Council (Albany, New York) will develop an interactive career map to demonstrate career pathways and conduct strategic outreach to foster a talent pipeline for the building energy-efficiency industry.
  • Lane Community College (Eugene, Oregon) will create a Building Energy & Controls Apprenticeship Program to increase throughput of building energy and controls graduates, who will be prepared to identify and implement energy-saving measures in medium to large commercial facilities.
  • City University of New York: City College (New York, New York) will develop a nationally accessible online platform for lifelong and mentored workforce learning for low-energy building operations, building retuning, and ongoing commissioning.
  • Alaska Housing Finance Corp. (Anchorage, Alaska) will conduct building monitoring and energy-efficiency training for small and mid-sized commercial buildings in rural Alaska.
  • Confluence Communications (Missoula, Montana) will develop a building science curriculum for high school students, “boot camps” for transitioning military personnel, two-year-degree community college construction management programs, and energy-focused continuing education programs for homebuilders.
  • Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (Chicago, Illinois) will develop an advanced training for Nebraska, supporting trends in building energy efficiency and building science, including grid-integrated efficient building practices.
  • Smart Energy Assistance Center, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Urbana, Illinois) will equip community college instructors to educate the next-generation workforce on the latest building energy technologies and related industry standards.

These projects have been selected for award negotiations.