The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced $53 million in funding awards for diverse small businesses to pursue advanced scientific instrumentation and technologies to address climate change. The funding will support 259 projects across 38 states that cover security and resilience, renewable energy, energy storage, carbon capture and conversion, and fusion energy, including projects that invest in disadvantaged communities to promote equitable research, development, and deployment of solutions. This year, the Building Technologies Office (BTO) will oversee 12 projects that will pursue innovations that could improve the energy efficiency of buildings across six topic areas of research: building envelopes, HVAC systems, and design and decision tools.

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs give U.S. small businesses an opportunity to conduct high-risk, innovative research and technology development with potential for commercialization, spurring innovation and job creation. Today, small businesses are receiving Phase I Release 2 grants that demonstrate technical feasibility for innovations during the first phase of their research. Phase I awards are up to $200,000 for six months to one year.

The projects in BTO’s portfolio are:

Topic 10a: Simplified Sizing and Selection Tool for Thermal Energy Storage

  • OptiMiser, LLC, Denver, Colorado – “Developing a Software Tool for Discovery, Sizing, and Sales of Thermal Energy Storage Systems.” OptiMiser will develop a marketable software product for thermal energy storage sizing and selection, aimed at heat pump-driven building HVAC systems. If successful, OptiMizer’s tool could increase the use of thermal energy storage in heat pump-driven building HVAC systems by providing information and guidance to adopters and installers.

Topic 10b: Advanced Building Controls for Managing and Controlling Thermal Energy Storage

  • ZYD Energy Inc., Sacramento, California – “Model-Based Predictive Control and Sensor Technology for Phase-Change Thermal Energy Storage Systems.” ZYD Energy Inc. will develop new controls for their integrated heat pump water heater and thermal energy storage system that allows for the integration and control of phase-change-material thermal energy storage. If successful, this added capability would make their system grid-responsive, which unlocks greater energy, cost, and carbon savings for utilities and consumers alike.

Topic 10c: Integrated Thermal Energy Storage in HVAC&R Systems

  • MicroEra Power Inc., Rochester, New York – “THERMAplus, TES Optimized for Integration with Chillers and Heat Pumps.” MicroEra Power Inc. will develop and demonstrate a next-generation thermal energy storage technology utilizing a multimode phase change material (PCM) to dramatically improve the performance and cost-effectiveness of heat pump systems. The multimode PCM technology will afford unprecedented tunability on a daily or seasonal basis to provide both cooling and heating (in the same tanks and same active material) and enable major energy and power reductions for commercial customers.
  • Stow Energy Inc., San Francisco, California – “Air-to-Water Heat Pump and Thermal Storage.” Stow Energy will develop a scalable heat pump and retrofit-ready water-based thermal energy storage platform for shifting of heating, cooling, and hot water loads. This simpler and cost-effective approach, which is particularly well-suited for residential buildings, would establish a new type of thermal energy storage for today’s marketplace. If successful, this approach would reduce peak residential electrical heating and cooling loads on the grid for future decarbonization efforts.

Topic 20a: High Performance Insulated Cladding for Residential Field Applied Applications

  • Highland Park Technologies, LLC, Roxbury, Massachusetts – “High Performance Insulated Cladding.” Highland Park Technologies, LLC will develop a novel biobased recladding system that is easy to install and cost competitive with conventional building siding. If successful, this affordable and sustainable insulated wall panel could lower the overall carbon footprint of home energy efficiency siding retrofits.
  • IBACOS Inc., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – “Insulated Siding for Residential Retrofits.” IBACOS will develop an insulated cladding technology that integrates three distinct functions into one product to provide continuous exterior insulation, rainscreen drainage, and a finished outer cladding that reduces installation labor and improves energy performance, making it a favorable product choice for residential retrofit, renovation, or new construction. If successful, the insulated siding technology could improve occupant comfort and energy efficiency, lower utility bills, and reduce operational carbon emissions.

Topics 20b: Low-Cost Exterior Window Attachments for Disadvantaged Communities

  • IBACOS Inc., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania“Site Specific Exterior Shading Device.” IBACOS will develop a small and modular exterior shade to be deployed based on window orientation, aimed at lower-income households. It will have the potential to decrease interior temperatures in homes without A/C and reduce peak load in those with A/C.
  • WinBuild, Fairfax, Virginia“Low-Cost Exterior Window Attachments.” WinBuild will develop a low-cost exterior shade with highly reflective coatings and low-e properties that can be controlled mechanically or electromagnetically. These attachments will have the potential to decrease interior temperatures in homes without A/C and reduce peak load in those with A/C.
  • Visionary Products Inc., Draper, Utah – “Low-Cost Exterior Window Attachments.” This research team will develop a low-cost PVC shade with the potential to decrease interior temperatures in homes without A/C and reduce peak load in those with A/C.

Topics 20c: Home Energy Score

  • ClearlyEnergy Inc., Severna Park, Maryland – “Remotely: A Home Energy Score App.” ClearlyEnergy will design a smartphone app that can collect energy data for DOE’s Home Energy Score more rapidly and affordably, perform remote home energy assessments, and prepare homeowners for in-person ones. Through Remotely, ClearlyEnergy is seeking to help Home Energy Score expand nationwide and increase home energy assessments in harder-to-reach areas.
  • Ambient Trends, LLC, Shingle Springs, California – “Home Energy Score Integration Time-of-Use Rates for Utility Program Implementation.” Ambient Trends will develop a web-API-based software that helps Home Energy Score expand its modeling capabilities to include grid-connected devices that are valuable for shifting demand for demand response programs and showcase the value of grid-interactive technologies in homes.
  • ConSol Home Energy Efficiency Rating Services Inc., Sacramento, California – “CHEERS Accelerating the DOE Home Energy Score.” ConSol will integrate Home Energy Score into the California-approved software platform and pilot adoption with California home energy raters. This will help Home Energy Score test the impact of electrification upgrades on costs and peak demand and expand its use throughout California.

Small businesses play a major role in spurring innovation and creating jobs in the U.S. economy. The SBIR and STTR programs were created by Congress to leverage small businesses to advance innovation at federal agencies. Information on the DOE SBIR and STTR programs is available on the Office of Science SBIR/STTR website. Additional information can be found on the EERE SBIR/STTR website as well.