Today, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Building Technologies Office (BTO) announced its Building Energy Efficiency Frontiers & Innovation Technologies (BENEFIT) 2024 funding opportunity (DE-FOA-0003158). This funding opportunity will invest up to $30 million across nine topic areas to research, develop, and validate technologies with the potential to significantly advance building decarbonization. Since its inception in 2014, BTO has issued the BENEFIT funding opportunity announcement (FOA) to spur innovations that provide substantial improvements to building energy performance and occupant comfort. Technologies developed through BENEFIT 2024 will advance the state-of-the-art for HVAC equipment, lower the cost of building envelope and lighting retrofits, and make buildings more resilient to blackouts and extreme weather. Equitable decarbonization of the U.S. building stock is central to each topic in the BENEFIT 2024 FOA, emphasizing cost-effective, easy-to-deploy technology solutions, and community-oriented project partnerships.

As the single-largest energy consuming sector of the U.S. economy, residential and commercial buildings represented approximately 40% of total energy consumption and 74% of its electricity use in 2022, which makes buildings responsible for 35% of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions. About one-third of the energy consumed in buildings is wasted, an estimated annual cost to American families and businesses of $150 billion. Growing peak electricity demands are challenging the electricity grid, exacerbated by weather-related stresses on transmission and distribution infrastructure as well as the variability of available electricity supply from renewable energy sources. The innovations that BENEFIT 2024 will invest in aim to address all of these pressing needs and more, reducing the energy intensity and emissions from buildings and accelerating an equitable clean energy transition.

The 2024 BENEFIT FOA supports the Affordable Home Energy Shot™—one of eight Energy Earthshot™ initiatives DOE has launched—which will reduce the cost of decarbonizing affordable housing by at least 50% while lowering residents’ energy bill by at least 20% within a decade. Topics in the FOA will lead to innovations that provide whole-home integrated solutions for the equitable decarbonization of affordable housing units the Earthshot calls for.

BTO‘s 2024 BENEFIT FOA will invest up to $30M across nine topic areas to allow all interested parties to pursue innovations in the following topic areas:

  • Topic 1a targets validations of components for systems approaches to commercial boiler decarbonization to improve the availability, affordability, and simplicity of electrified boiler replacement options.
  • Topic 1b seeks performance and cost improvements for cooling in high humidity climates, targeting significantly better performance than current equipment standards and a substantially lower first cost price point.
  • Topic 1c focuses on overcoming barriers for high-efficiency refrigerants with GWP < 10 by developing heat pump and heat pump water heater systems with reduced thresholds for the global warming potential of their working fluids.
  • Topic 1d calls for innovations that advance design and performance rating for air-water heat pumps (HP) with GWP <10 to validate new residential and commercial air source heat pumps that are COP competitive with current air source heat pumps while maintaining other equivalent cost and performance metrics.
  • Topic 1e focuses on reducing form factor for medium to high temperature heat pumps in commercial buildings to provide viable HP solutions for commercial and industrial buildings.
  • Topic 2 advances R&D for innovative, replicable, and low-cost roof and attic retrofits, targeting affordable and scalable retrofit solutions that improve energy efficiency, address air and water infiltration, and are deployable by weatherization assistance programs, community action agencies, and other retrofit contractors.
  • Topic 3a will innovate behind-the-meter electrical systems for building resilience and peak load management that grow nascent product classes that make electrification more viable within existing capacity constraints, such as low-power appliances, energy-storage equipped appliances, low-cost DC-bus retrofits and hardware, and other novel, low-cost load management solutions or power-efficient technologies.
  • Topic 3b will develop resilient cooling solutions for overheating protection in buildings, leading to affordable, energy efficient, and innovative localized thermal management solutions that improve the thermal comfort and safety of building occupants during heat waves and power outages.
  • Topic 4 will enable commercial lighting retrofit advancements that reduce barriers to adoption and installation of light fixtures widely suitable for commercial buildings, especially educational facilities, with exceptional luminous efficacy and light quality that support the occupant health.

To apply to this FOA, applicants must register with, and submit application materials through, EERE eXCHANGE here, EERE’s online application portal. Applicants must submit a concept paper by 5 p.m. ET on December 18, 2023, to be eligible to submit a full application.