The Building Technologies Office announced the winners from its latest round of JUMP technology challenges, one in building envelope design and the other in roofing systems. JUMP is an online crowdsourcing platform, hosted and managed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), that has served to identify over a dozen solutions to industry challenges since its inception. JUMP stands for join in the discussion, unveil innovation, motivate transformation, and promote technology-to-market.

Novel Design in Building Envelopes

In 2016, more than 40% of U.S. primary energy and 75% of electricity was consumed in residential and commercial buildings, resulting in annual energy costs of more than $380 billion. The envelope of the building, which refers to the external walls, windows, roof, and floor of a building, is the thermal barrier between the indoor and outdoor environment and one of the primary determinants of energy use to maintain indoor comfort. In fact, approximately 35% of this consumption, equating to almost 14% of overall primary energy usage, is used to maintain a comfortable indoor environment, and thus directly related to the performance of the building envelope.

The building envelope JUMP challenge was to develop an innovative new material or installation method that uses readily available products to improve the thermal performance and airtightness of a wall assembly, without compromising the durability of the wall assembly.

John Archibald’s submission, on behalf of American Solar, on “Heat Recovery and Use from Dynamic Building Envelopes” was selected as the winning idea. The idea involves using dynamic insulated vinyl solar siding to recover heated air from the solar heated siding for a variety of direct and indirect uses within the building to displace a portion of purchased fossil and electric heating uses. American Solar has earned a cash award of $5,000 from a leading product manufacturer.

“We are pleased to be selected by the JUMP program for our building envelope solar heat recovery technology. Review and selection by the judges who are experts in building envelope energy is another endorsement of the value of the technology we have pioneered over the last 20 years. The outreach to industry and consumers is another valuable component of the program,” said John Archibald.

Innovation in Roofing Systems

The roofing systems JUMP challenge was to develop new materials or installation methods that can be employed with a concrete deck so that the likelihood of having moisture-related problems is significantly reduced. 

The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) 2014-2015 Market Survey indicates that concrete decks represent about 14 percent of the new and retrofit low-slope construction market. The DOE Market Calculator lists the 2030 envelope-generated heating and cooling loads in commercial building roofs as 545 TBtu. Assuming that 14 percent of the roofing is installed over concrete decks, and if problems exist with 50 percent of these roofs, 38 TBtu of energy savings could be achieved through this proposed innovation by eliminating the energy penalties associated with high material moisture contents.

Two submissions were selected as winning ideas: Randy Prefer’s “Moisture Absorption” idea to use ribbed, sand-filled packets to create an air gap between the concrete and the roofing materials substrates; and Kevin Ryan’s “Miniature Ducts” idea of using miniature ducts under the roof slab to allow air to flow underneath for the purpose of drying. Mr. Prefer and Mr. Ryan have earned a collective cash award of $10,000 from GAF.

“JUMP is every entrepreneur’s dream, providing the inventive mind to think out of the box and create new products while solving problems in diverse industries. The ability to share potential ideas and have other similarly minded individuals evaluate the potential of your idea from their prospective, provides the validation we all seek, which spurs additional positive innovative thoughts to improve your original concept. I enjoyed the professionalism of all involved and really look forward to solving or creating more innovation through similar platforms. I sincerely hope that the JUMP will continue with additional challenges in the future,” said Randy Prefer.

“JUMP’s crowdsourcing site connects companies with inventors who think outside the box and have unique solutions to energy challenges. Without this connection, the solution might not ever reach its destination,” said Kevin Ryan.

Advancing Technology Innovation

JUMP has built a community of innovation that is helping accelerate the market transformation curve of energy-efficient technologies. Since inception, JUMP has yielded several ideas advancing to market, the most promising of which are working toward technology licensing. 

“We would like to extend our thanks and appreciation to the entire JUMP community for helping make this program a success. We are thrilled with the response to JUMP and look forward to watching these ideas move from concept to reality. The variety of topics we have explored and industries we have partnered with shows just how adaptable this program can be in advancing research and development of new technologies,” said Sven Mumme, technology manager in DOE's Building Technologies Office.

This article was edited October 31, 2017.