On August 7, 2023, DOE released $46 million in funding for 29 projects across 15 states to develop advanced technologies and retrofit practices for buildings that will benefit occupants and the grid through efficient, affordable, sustainable, and resilient building operation. Advancements made with this funding from the Buildings Energy Efficiency Frontiers & Innovation Technologies (BENEFIT) funding opportunity will help buildings electrify while improving their energy efficiency and demand flexibility in a cost-effective and equitable manner.

These projects were chosen through a competitive selection process that rigorously evaluated applications on their technical merit. The ones selected today demonstrated the greatest likelihood of achieving the BTO’s objectives within the funds available for this funding opportunity announcement.

BTO’s newest cohort of projects are:

Topic 1: Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning and Water Heating – Technologies with improved materials, components, equipment design and engineering, lower cost manufacturing processes, and easier installation.

Subtopic 1A: Components R&D for Residential and Commercial HVAC/WH Air-Source Heat Pump

  • North Carolina State University, North Carolina – Next-Generation Nature-Inspired Variable Capacity Evaporators for Low-GWP Blended Refrigerants – North Carolina State University will develop a novel lung-inspired variable-capacity evaporator that uses a multi-port thermal/electronic valve to improve heat pump performance, saving energy and reducing payback time. (Award amount: $1.4 million)
  • OTS R&D Inc., Maryland – Enabling Vapor Injection Compressors in Next-Generation Heat Pumps – OTS R&D Inc. will test multiple variable injection compressors using a first-in-class compressor calorimeter to improve system design accuracy, resulting in the development of commercial software. (Award amount: $1 million)
  • Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Technology Institute (AHRTI), Virginia – Two-Phase Heat Transfer and Pressure Drop Characterization of Low Global Warming Potential Refrigerants, and Implementation on Heat Exchangers and System Models – AHRTI will characterize heat transfer and pressure drop performance of new low-GWP refrigerants to improve heat pump efficiency, providing manufacturers with critical information on heat exchanger design. (Award amount: $1.8 million)
  • University of Maryland: College Park, Maryland – Next-Generation Liquid-to-Refrigerant Heat Exchangers for Heat Pumps, Water Heaters, and Refrigeration Systems (NG-LRHX) – The University of Maryland will improve the thermal performance of small heat exchanger packages using liquid-to-refrigerant heat exchangers to address operational issues, reducing energy consumption by 10-15%. (Award amount: $1.4 million)

Subtopic 1B: HVAC/WH Cost Compression Solutions

  • Colorado School of Mines, Colorado – 30-40 Gallon Heat Pump Water Heater with Latent Heat Storage for Multiple Flexibility Modes in Low-Income Housing – Colorado School of Mines will develop a small-tank heat pump water heater that uses a PCM heat exchanger to allow for fast installation and flexible demand, reducing the need for peak electricity use. (Award amount: $2.1 million)

Subtopic 1C: Commercial Low GWP Cold Climate Rooftop Heat Pump

  • Purdue University, Indiana – Commercial Cold Climate Rooftop Heat Pump Using CO2/Propane Cascaded with a Centrifugal System – Purdue University will develop a cold climate heat pump rooftop unit that uses a cascaded loop system to accommodate a wide range of operating conditions and GWP refrigerant choices, improving heat pump RTU efficiencies in low temperatures. (Award amount: $2 million)
  • University of Maryland: College Park, Maryland – Smart Cold Climate Rooftop Heat Pump with Low-GWP Refrigerant – The University of Maryland will design a cold climate heat pump rooftop unit that uses low-GWP refrigerants and advanced compression techniques to enable low temperature heating capacity, furthering CCHPRTU availability. (Award amount: $2.3 million)

Subtopic 1D: Commercial Heat Pump Water Heater Development and Demonstration

  • New Buildings Institute, Oregon – Made in America Grid Integrated Commercial HPWH Systems (MAGIC HPWHs) – New Buildings Institute will demonstrate commercial heat pump water heaters in multifamily homes located in multiple climate zones to de-risk the technology, accelerating the market readiness of CHPWHs. (Award amount: $2.3 million)
  • Electric Power Research Institute Inc., D.C. – Field Demonstration of Cold Climate Heat Pump Water Heaters for Multifamily Buildings – EPRI will demonstrate and validate a cold climate commercial heat pump water heater that uses a low-GWP refrigerant to allow for outdoor installations in cold climates, increasing their implementation range throughout the U.S. (Award amount: $0.8 million)
  • D&R International, Ltd., Maryland – Scaling Up: Demonstrating Risk Reduction and Cost Compression for Commercial HPWHs – D&R International will validate central heat pump water heaters on the qualified products list to de-risk the technology, creating a reliable, cost-effective, and repeatable approach to CHPWH deployment. (Award amount: $2.5 million)

Topic 2: Thermal Energy Storage (TES): Development and validation of next-generation plug-and-play TES products with improved cost and performance and ease of installation to accelerate adoption of TES in HVAC applications.

  • University of Wisconsin: Madison, Wisconsin – Thermal Storage-Ready High-Performance Multisplit Heat Pump System – The University of Wisconsin will develop a plug-and-play, multisplit HVAC system for heating and cooling that incorporates modular thermal storage units that together can reduce electricity power consumption by up to 50% for four hours at a time during periods of peak demand. (Award amount: $2.5 million)
  • Copeland, Ohio – Multifunctional HVAC Platform with Modular Thermal Storage – Copeland will connect an outdoor heat pump charged with propane (a low global warming potential refrigerant) with plug-and-play thermal energy storage modules to create an integrated residential HVAC platform for cooling, heating, and water heating, which will reduce the amount of energy needed for space conditioning and water heating by 40% overall. (Award amount: $2 million)
  • Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia – Design and Integration of Thermochemical Energy Storage (TCES) into Buildings for Load Shedding/Shifting – The Georgia Tech Research Corporation will develop a new high-energy, closed-cell thermochemical energy storage module that connects with a residential heat pump to improve efficiency and store energy during periods of peak demand year-round. (Award amount: $2.4 million)
  • University of Maryland: College Park, Maryland – Low Cost and High Performance Modular Thermal Energy Storage for Building Equipment – The University of Maryland will design a heat pump-integrated cross-media thermal energy storage system that uses an innovative 3D-printed polymer heat exchanger to overcome low thermal conductivity, allowing for load shifting during peak demand periods and reducing heating and cooling demand. (Award amount: $1.3 million)

Topic 3: Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS): Development, validation, and demonstration of product innovations that reduce the cost of BESS integration, improve the coordination between distributed BESS and the electrical grid, as well as help meet building decarbonization targets.

Subtopic 3A: Innovative BESS Integration and Coordination Strategies

  • Gridscape Solutions, California – Smart Energy Storage Integration and Management Platform for Buildings (SESIMP-B) – Gridscape Solutions will develop, validate, and demonstrate a plug-and-play, smart commercial-building service panel that reduces complexity and cost for smart panel installation and DER integration. (Award amount: $1.5 million)
  • Eaton, Ohio – Low-Cost, Grid-Interactive Uninterruptible Power Supply for Building Energy Storage – Eaton will develop an uninterruptible power supply that uses grid-interactive controls, which in aggregate could provide over 5 GW of load shifting capacity as grid services. (Award amount: $1.5 million)
  • Channing Street Copper Company, California – REST NET: Residential Energy Storage Transition and Network Efficiency Tactics – Channing Street Copper Company will develop 120-V heat pump minisplits and hot water heaters with integrated battery storage to simplify electrification upgrade needs. (Award amount: $1.5 million)
  • Blip Energy Inc., Illinois – Low Cost IoT BESS System Using Second Life Cells – Blip Energy Inc. will develop a chemistry-agnostic BESS that uses second-life batteries to provide backups to 120-V devices, furthering circular economy goals. (Award amount: $1.1 million)
  • Southern Company Services, Georgia – Deep Integration of BESS into an Existing Large Commercial Building Automation System with HVAC, Solar and EV Charging for Achieving Net Zero Carbon – Southern Company Services will integrate BESS and building automation systems (BAS) using a supervisory control layer to coordinate local and grid objectives, breaking traditional BESS and BAS silos. (Award amount: $1.5 million)

Subtopic 3B: Net-Zero Emissions BESS Demonstration and Analysis

  • Colorado School of Mines, Colorado – Analysis and Field Validation Home Battery Energy Storage Systems for Affordable Housing – Colorado School of Mines will demonstrate BESS emission reductions that use an emission-aware control platform to perform lifecycle analyses, quantifying BESS benefits and costs in a diversity of residential settings including multifamily and manufactured housing developments. (Award amount: $1.5 million)
  • Johns Hopkins University, Maryland – Western-Based Analysis of Distributed Battery Storage System Emission Benefits and Tradeoffs – Johns Hopkins University will evaluate the dispatch and emissions impacts of thousands of battery energy storage systems in support of development of more efficient, equitable, and effective dispatch schedules. (Award amount: $1.5 million)

Topic 4: Plug Loads/Lighting: Integration of plug load controls with connected lighting systems in commercial buildings with minimal cost and complexity to support building electrification.

  • University of California: San Diego, California – Optimized Commercial Control Technology of Plug-Loads and Lighting (OCCTOPI), an open-source software for affordably integrating plug load and lighting controls in commercial buildings – The University of California: San Diego will develop an open-source commercial building control algorithm to integrate plug load and lighting controls, targeting energy savings of 25%. (Award amount: $0.6 million)

Topic 5: Opaque Building Envelope: Development, validation, and demonstration of high-impact, affordable. opaque building envelope retrofit and diagnostic technologies.

Subtopic 5A: R5+ Insulated Cladding for Residential Field Applied Applications

  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, New York – Hemp Retrofit SIPS (HeRS): Hemp-Based Insulated Siding for Residential Retrofit Applications – Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute will develop a commercially viable, durable, and low-embodied carbon insulated siding product with at least R-5 thermal performance to reduce HVAC energy use by 15-25%. (Award amount: $1.5 million)
  • Liatris Inc., Maryland – R-5+ Retrofit Cladding System with Low-Cost Clay Cellulose Insulation – Liatris will develop an insulated cladding system that uses composite insulation to provide a thickness similar to standard insulated vinyl siding at a lower cost per square foot, reducing homeowner utility costs. (Award amount: $1.2 million)

Subtopic 5B: Cost Compression Solutions for Building Insulation Retrofit Technologies

  • Highland Park Technologies, LLC, Massachusetts – A Tight Enclosure on the Path to Net Zero – Highland Park Technologies will develop a panelized envelope retrofit system that uses a wood fiber insulated panel and mounting system to improve ease of installation, reducing labor and associated costs. (Award amount: $1.5 million)
  • University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee – Cost-Compression Solution for Continuous Insulation Retrofit via Spray-on Monolithic Insulated Cladding (MonoInsu) – The University of Tennessee, Knoxville will develop a novel building envelope retrofit solution that integrates exterior insulation boards, low-carbon spray foam, and a cladding layer to improve air tightness, increasing home energy efficiency. (Award amount: $1.5 million)

Subtopic 5C: Air Leakage Diagnostic and Air-Sealing Technologies

  • Center for Energy and Environment, Minnesota – Innovative Aerosol Sealing of Occupied Residences – The Center for Energy and Environment will develop an advanced air-sealing technology that can be used on the exterior of existing buildings to reduce disruption of building occupants, improving its ease of application. (Award amount: $0.8 million)
  • New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, New Mexico – Real-Time Building Air Leakage Visualizer – New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology will develop an air leakage visualizer system that integrates background-oriented schlieren and thermal imaging to quantify internal and external envelope leakage, allowing for cheaper, higher fidelity, and less disruptive building assessment. (Award amount: $1.5 million)
  • Hearth Labs (transferred from GTI Energy), New York – Using Noninvasive Scanning for Envelope Assessments with LiDAR Enhanced Diagnostics and Air Infiltration Results (UNSEALED-AIR) – Hearth Labs Solutions Inc. will develop a diagnostic tool that uses LiDAR technology to quickly locate and identify the severity of air leaks, allowing for cheaper and more expedient site assessments in commercial buildings. (Award amount: $1.5 million)

For more information on DOE’s activities that support building technology innovation, visit BTO’s Emerging Technologies program or see the full funding opportunity announcement.

Selection for award negotiations is not a commitment by DOE to issue an award or provide funding. Before funding is issued, DOE and the applicants will undergo a negotiation process, and DOE may cancel negotiations and rescind the selection for any reason during that time.