Energy Department Announces Funding for 16 Small Businesses to Stimulate American Innovation in Building Energy Efficiency

May 22, 2018

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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced $2.3 million for 16 grants to small businesses to develop building energy-efficient technologies with great potential for commercialization and job creation. These projects are funded through DOE’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, which are competitively awarded based on scientific and technical merit.

Through the SBIR/STTR Phase I Release 2 Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), 87 grants were awarded DOE-wide. The building energy-efficiency projects encompass three different topics: building energy modeling, building envelope, and solid-state lighting. The small business awardees are researching, developing, and testing many exciting new ideas, including using energy modeling in the bidding and pre-concept phases of building design, developing a retrofit press-and-apply dynamic window, and developing a liquid printing technology for organic light-emitting diode (OLED) manufacturing.

These are the 16 projects awarded across three building energy-efficiency topics to small businesses and research institutions across 13 different states in this round of SBIR/STTR awards:

Building Energy Modeling

  • From New York, New York: Maalka Inc. has an existing building energy data management platform that is used by cities, utilities, and large portfolio management companies. Via this award, Maalka will integrate DOE’s OpenStudio software to provide a customizable energy conservation measures analysis framework for energy-efficiency program development and management.
  • From Wexford, Pennsylvania: BuildSimHub has developed a cloud-based collaboration, change management, and quality management environment for energy modeling projects that is built on the GitHub engine that is popular with software development projects. Via this award, BuildSimHub will add new services and feature a system for interpreting, tracking, and managing simulation diagnostics, warnings, and errors; cloud-based simulation that can be deployed into various workflows through an API; and calibration support.
  • From Baltimore, Maryland: Ladybug Tools LLC is the developer of popular analysis plug-ins for architectural tools such as Rhino and Revit. Current plug-ins—including LadyBug for lighting analysis and Honeybee for energy analysis with EnergyPlus—run locally limiting the type and scope of analysis. Via this award, Ladybug Tools will add cloud-based analysis for energy, lighting, and airflow using open-source engines EnergyPlus, Radiance, and OpenFOAM.
  • From Falls Church, Virginia: Golden Analytics LLC will develop a new method for energy model input calibration that will be more accurate and less computationally intensive than current methods. The new method will combine related parameters such as wall and roof R-values into single parameters that are treated together. An important innovation will be the correlation of residuals (unaccounted for differences between models and measurements) with building operating states, providing additional information to the user.
  • From Rocklin, California: VISTAR will leverage EnergyPlus, OpenStudio, and ResStock to develop a web-based energy modeling framework for homeowner-driven single-family residential energy modeling applications. This service is being designed as a customer engagement portal for utilities.
  • From Arlington Heights, Illinois: GARD Analytics will leverage recent research to develop algorithms, and a corresponding web service, for creating energy models from location information and project owner requirements for space distribution. These models can be used by architects during the bidding and pre-concept stages of building design in which modeling is currently rarely used.
  • From Canton, Connecticut: Energy Analytics will add automation around the OpenStudio platform to support the processes associated with large energy performance contracting projects, especially ones involving renewables, combined heat and power, and microgrids. Automation will support utility bill collection and analysis, initial model creation, and measurement and verification.
  • From Warwick, Rhode Island: Prisere LLC develops models and analyses for the insurance and reinsurance industry, focusing on climate and disaster recovery. Via this award, Prisere will leverage open-source tools like EnergyPlus and OpenStudio to add energy analytical capabilities to its analysis to help insurance and reinsurance actors value energy efficiency and help unlock capital for energy-efficiency projects in the form of incentives and lower premiums.

Building Envelope

  • From Hyattsville and College Park, Maryland: Inventwood LLC and University of Maryland are developing a unique technique to create a green thermal insulation material out of wood that is light, strong, super thermal insulating, extremely cost-effective, and can be readily added onto walls of existing buildings for retrofit applications.
  • From Wilmington, Delaware: EA Membranes LLC is developing a unique weather resistant barrier for both residential and commercial buildings based on electrostatically actuated membrane technology. This adaptive and dynamic moisture barrier can change permeability from an external stimulus to control moisture flow into or out of the structure of the wall, allowing for regional solutions, greater occupant comfort, and reduced air conditioning loads.
  • From Holmdel, New Jersey: Ashwin-Ushas Corp. is developing a retrofit capability with press-and-apply electrochromic panels easily applied to existing building windows. They have successfully developed novel, auto-darkening electrochromic sunglasses and will adapt that technology to window retrofits.

Solid-State Lighting

  • From Golden, Colorado: Hazen Research and National Renewable Energy Laboratory are developing a low-cost Transparent Conductive Electrode that overcomes numerous limitations of currently used Indium Tin Oxide as a Transparent Conductive Oxide (TCO). TCOs are integral to efficient and affordable OLEDs and are also used in other EERE technologies such as photovoltaics, optical processing, transparent electronics, displays, and potentially multiple function glazing and envelope surfaces.
  • From Austin, Texas, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Electroninks and University of Pittsburgh are developing a microfluidic printing technology derived from transparent electronics research where selective hydrophobic and hydrophilic areas in glass and plastic substrates are used to pattern metal inks into conformable, yet high-performance transparent electrodes. These inks are inherently compatible with roll-to-roll OLED manufacturing and a variety of patterning techniques including spin coating, inkjet, and gravure printing and may also be used on glass or plastic substrates.
  • From Rochester, New York: OLEDWorks is building on previous SBIR/STTR, DOE, and private research to achieve unparalleled performance of bendable OLED panels. OLEDWorks will integrate and optimize multiple scientific advancements, as well as demonstrate manufacturability.
  • Pendleton, South Carolina, and Clemson, South Carolina: Tetramer Technologies and Clemson University will demonstrate the potential to manufacture reduced graphene into highly conductive yet transparent layers.
  • From Torrance, California, and Charlottesville, Virginia: InnoSense and University of Virginia are developing a novel transparent conductive film using specially enabled carbon nanotubes in composition with other conductive materials such as Graphene Oxide and Aluminum-Zinc Oxide nanoparticles.

To explore the other projects awarded throughout other Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) offices in the SBIR/STTR Phase I Release FOA, see the EERE release.

To learn more about EERE’s SBIR/STTR efforts, visit www.energy.gov/eere/sbir.