As one of the hottest years in recorded history makes the need for energy-efficient, comfortable, and low-carbon buildings crystal clear, innovators participating in the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) accelerator program IMPEL are accelerating their journey from idea to market with scientifically vetted technologies designed to meet that need. IMPEL is wrapping up its fourth season of bringing building technology innovators together with coaches and mentors across science, entrepreneurship, demonstration, policy, industry, and investment organizations. 

“So far, IMPEL innovators have raised over $90 million in funding. And they are quickly moving along the path from innovative idea, to validated product, to manufacturing and distribution,” said Reshma Singh, senior advisor at the U.S. DOE Building Technologies Office and program director for IMPEL, which is housed at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. 

Watch the IMPEL video.

As IMPEL gets ready to open applications for its fifth cohort (applications are now open) several IMPEL innovators have recently reached important milestones in the development of their products:

  • Three IMPEL 2023 cohort members have been selected for the prestigious Lab Embedded Entrepreneurship Programs (LEEP), a DOE program that trains the next generation of clean tech entrepreneurs to develop game-changing technologies for a clean energy future. ThermoVerse, which is combining state-of-the-art thermal energy storage (TES) with ultralow power temperature and humidity sensing and Peltier heating and cooling to create a one-of-a-kind smart wallpaper™, was selected for LEEP’s Innovation Crossroads node. EarthEn, also selected for Innovation Crossroads, is developing Energy Pod, an energy storage solution that uses CO2 and allows the storage of excess energy from solar and wind for long and short durations. Additionally, Westwood Aerogel was selected for Activate Berkeley for their development ZeroTherm, a scalable breakthrough aerogel insulation engineered to meet the growing demand for high-performance insulation materials.
  • Three of the six finalists for the U.S. Department of Energy's Equitable and Affordable Solutions to Electrification (EAS-E) Home Electrification Prize are IMPEL innovators. They receive support worth $80,000 as they vie for the top prize of $1 million. QuitCarbon, IMPEL 2023, is a free service that helps homeowners replace gas appliances with clean electric alternatives. Aris Hydronics, IMPEL 2023, makes a zero-emission combined HVAC and domestic hot water system that operates at high efficiency and has load shifting and scheduling capabilities. Hydronic Shell Technologies, IMPEL 2022, heat-storing primer topcoat makes existing HVAC systems more efficient and durable and homes more comfortable. 
  • Shower Stream, IMPEL 2022, secured $750,000 in Department of Defense funding for an 18-month demonstration of its motion-sensing technology that uses artificial intelligence to manage excessive energy and hot water waste from showers in multiple locations in real time. This follows a Shower Stream pilot involving showers in Extended Stay America’s 65,000 hotel rooms.
  • Hempitecture, IMPEL 2021, opened the nation’s first-ever industrial hemp manufacturing plant in February. The Idaho factory makes HempWool, plant-based, hypoallergenic, and carbon-negative insulation.
  • InventWood, IMPEL 2021, won a $20 million ARPA-E SCALEUP Award to manufacture lightweight wood corrugated honeycomb structures that can replace metal equivalents while reducing manufacturing emissions by 90%.

“As we finish up our fourth cohort, we have worked with 213 teams whose startups are dedicated to decarbonizing buildings in innovative ways. They’re developing affordable, equitable, and energy-saving building materials and methods, on-site clean electricity generation, smart-building monitors and controls, and advanced systems that integrate with the grid,” said Singh, who is in a new video that goes behind the scenes at IMPEL.

At IMPEL’s Foundational Training, the cohort of inventors and entrepreneurs are coached on creating compelling pitches and business plans through intensive workshops. They get technical feedback on their innovations and are also trained to use national lab-developed carbon tools that quantify the climate benefits of their products and services. Then, during the Pipeline phase of the program, they gain exposure to funding opportunities in the public and private sectors and are introduced to partner business incubators, pitch competitions, and the world-class national lab ecosystem. In addition to IMPEL’s current programming, for its next cycle, the program will be expanding its carbon tools training and adding additional workshops around the demonstration and public sector go-to-market approaches.

“IMPEL is de-risking decarbonization in the building sector by accelerating the development of scientifically vetted technologies that are cost-effective and on their way to market,” said Nicholas Ryan, ORISE Science, Technology, and Policy Fellow at the U.S. DOE Building Technologies Office. “These products and services will help shrink the building sector’s carbon footprint quickly, which is critically important. If you add up emissions from building materials, construction, and operations, buildings are responsible for almost 40% of global carbon emissions.”