Commercial Buildings Cooperative Agreements

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The Building Technologies Office's Commercial Buildings Integration program issues funding opportunities to advance energy efficiency solutions and technologies for commercial buildings. These competitive solicitations are typically open to industry, small businesses, academia, the national labs, and other entities.

View the 2016, 2015, 2014, or 2013 projects.

2016 Awards

In 2016, BTO sought proposals for solutions to improve the energy efficiency of small and medium commercial buildings. BTO awarded over $7.7 million for 6 cooperative agreements, described here:

  • International Center for Appropriate and Sustainable Technology (Lakewood, CO) – ICAST will receive $994,253 in funding to expand its one-stop-shop model to address the Small Commercial Apartment Property (SCAP) market with deeper retrofit. Funding is proposed to enhance current services and scale the current model nationally through franchising, to meet the energy efficiency (EE) retrofit needs of SCAPs. Partners include the Triple Bottom Line Foundation and the University of Colorado, Boulder.
  • City of Seattle (Seattle, WA) - The City of Seattle will receive $1,358,171 to engage with building owners, managers, and service providers to develop market expertise to train local building operations professionals to more effectively tune up existing buildings. This will accelerate the implementation of energy efficient improvements in Seattle’s small-medium commercial buildings, buildings that will be subject to pending mandatory tune-ups in 2020. City energy costs will reduce by $1.5 million annually. Partners include the Smart Buildings Center, University of Washington Integrated Design Lab, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL).
  • Institute for Market Transformation (Washington, D.C) – The Institute for Market Transformation will receive $831,000 to partner with local chambers of commerce to help small business landlords and tenants improve the energy efficiency of their buildings. The project will use a business-to-business (B2B) model recently piloted in Cleveland, Ohio. The model will drive the uptake of energy assessments, implementation of energy conservations measures, green leasing, and energy efficient tenant spaces for more than 400 leased buildings. Partners include the Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE), Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy (CICE), Chapel Hill Carrboro Chamber of Commerce, and the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce.
  • Lime Energy (Newark, NJ) – Lime Energy and its partners will receive $1,933,870 to implement an energy efficiency service delivery model for small and medium businesses in low-income communities. Target cities are: Buffalo, New York; Houston, Texas; Orlando, Florida; and Memphis, Tennessee. Completing over 1,000 retrofits featuring a performance guarantee and meter-validated savings. Partners include the Institute for Market Transformation, Persistent Efficiency, Open Energy Efficiency Meter, Houston Advanced Research Center, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Southwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (SEEA), South-central Partnership for Energy Efficiency as a Resource (SPEER), Joule Assets, and Solar Electric Light Fund.
  • NextEnergy (Detroit, MI) – Next Energy and its partners will receive $1,255,797 to improve energy savings in small and medium commercial buildings by reducing market barriers to adoption of lighting controls solution to spur market adoption. Training on advanced lighting controls and simplified installation methods, development of a model for streamlined incentives for lighting controls, and consumer education materials will be developed and deployed to increase adoption of lighting controls in commercial buildings. Partners include National Electrical Contractors Association and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW-NECA), DTE Energy, Consumers Energy, Bosch, TOGGLED, Lend Lease, and Bedrock Real Estate.
  • Association of Bay Area Governments (Oakland, CA) – The Association of Bay Area Governments and its partners will receive $1,398,758 to will perform modeling analysis in nine Bay Area counties to help small and medium businesses achieve the cost-effective energy efficiency improvements. BayREN Integrated Commercial Retrofits (BRICR) project will modify and enhance existing open-source tools to perform large-scale building energy modeling analysis on commercial buildings throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. One of two paths for comprehensive efficiency improvements will be suggested for building owners, deep energy retrofit or serial upgrades integrated into capital improvement cycles. BRICR will help reduce the cost of energy efficiency targeting, design, and project development in this market. Partners include the Bay Area Regional Energy Network, Business Council on Climate Change, City of Berkeley, City of Oakland, City and County of San Francisco, East Bay Energy Watch, Emerald Cities, Joule Assets, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, National Resource Ecology Laboratory, Open Energy Efficiency, Prospect Silicon Valley, Renew Financial, and San Francisco Energy Watch.

2015 Awards

In 2015, BTO sought proposals that will help overcome persistent commercial marketplace barriers to energy efficiency. BTO awarded nearly $5 million for 6 cooperative agreements, described here:

  • City of Milwaukee (Milwaukee, WI) - Milwaukee and 11 partners will receive $750,000 to demonstrate retrofit approaches in up to 200 commercial buildings across Wisconsin. Approaches will include bundled energy efficiency retrofits to make it easier for owners to choose among their efficiency options paired with emerging finance mechanisms such as property assessed clean energy financing (PACE). Milwaukee will also develop an efficient lighting design pattern book and pilot the Energy Department’s Standard Energy Efficiency Data Platform (SEED), an open source software application that manages energy performance data of large groups of buildings.
  • Seventhwave (Madison, WI) - The Energy Center will receive $1 million to demonstrate new approaches for procuring new high efficiency buildings through its Accelerate Performance project, which will emphasize setting explicit high efficiency performance goals when buying a new building and performance benchmarking. Best practices derived from piloting the tools will be transferred to utility programs and other building portfolios to scale up the program. Project partners include the Institute for Sustainable Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
  • Envision Charlotte (Charlotte, NC) - Envision Charlotte will receive $500,000 to expand its energy management approaches to more than triple the number of participating buildings across the community. The organization will demonstrate the Department’s Advanced Energy Retrofit Guides, Better Buildings Workforce Guidelines, and Commercial Building Energy Asset Score, used in achieving substantial energy savings.
  • Institute for Market Transformation (IMT) (Washington, DC) - IMT will receive $1 million to develop an innovative toolkit based on the Department’s Standard Energy Efficiency Database and other resources to enable cities and energy efficiency program administrators to better analyze building energy data for delivering energy savings more successfully. The project’s goals include: demonstrating the value of building benchmarking; creating new building technologies; driving competition; and identifying commercial buildings that would benefit most from energy efficiency programs. Partners include the New York City Energy Efficiency Corporation, New York City Mayor's Office of Sustainability, NYSERDA, District of Columbia Department of the Environment, and Vermont Energy Investment Corporation.
  • Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (Los Angeles, CA) - Through the Technology Demonstration Initiative (TDI), this organization will receive $560,000 to advance the use of highly energy efficient technologies in commercial buildings in California. TDI will measure, document and publicize the results of the demonstration projects, as well as help property owners define clear metrics to scale up successful demonstration projects to multiple sites. Partners include the Sustento Group, LLC and the Los Angeles Better Buildings Challenge, LLC.
  • Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) (Arlington, VA) - RILA and its project partners will receive $750,000 to improve energy savings in the retail sector by helping energy managers secure financing for efficiency projects, a top issue identified as limiting energy-efficiency investment in this significant market sector. This project will result in at least 5 new replicable, documented energy financial management strategies. These include establishing dedicated energy efficiency budgets, improving project proposal processes, financing team awareness of energy project value and the project piloting processes; establishing energy innovation funds; and utilizing external financing where necessary.

2014 Awards

In 2014, BTO sought proposals that would demonstrate and help commercialize advanced energy-saving technologies. BTO awarded $6 million for 5 cooperative agreements, described here:

  • enVerid Systems (Houston, Texas) – enVerid will retrofit building ventilation systems with modules that remove indoor air pollutants such as carbon dioxide. This enables the indoor air to be recycled while greatly reducing the amount of outside air ventilated into the building and reducing the loads on the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system. Facilities could experience significant energy savings with this retrofit technology. Ten separate commercial building demonstrations will be conducted over 3 years. DOE Investment: $2,400,244
  • BuildingIQ, Inc. (Foster City, California) – BuildingIQ will optimize HVAC energy use across commercial buildings using Predictive Energy Optimization (PEO), a cloud-based software application that runs on top of existing building automation systems. PEO uses data from weather forecasts, utility tariffs, demand response event signals, and occupant schedules to automatically adjust energy-consuming building systems. These adjustments are based on building-specific modeling that PEO uses over time employing building use data, as well as predictive algorithms and advanced control strategies. Sixteen separate building demonstrations will be conducted. DOE Investment: $1,767,138
  • QM Power, Inc. (Lee’s Summit, Missouri) – QM Power has developed high efficiency  7-16 watt fan motors that are often used in commercial refrigeration systems. QM Power intends to install and demonstrate approximately 12,000 high efficiency fans in more than 50 grocery stores throughout the U.S., focusing on open display case retrofits that could result in significant efficiency improvements. If fully adopted, the motor application has the potential to achieve more than 0.6 quads in energy savings and reduce energy costs by $1 billion. DOE Investment: $1,004,653
  • Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (Lexington, Massachusetts) – The project is designed to further the implementation of advanced lighting controls (ALCs), which turn off or dim lights when they are not in use. The project will demonstrate and evaluate two or more ALC technologies in 10 buildings, which should experience significant energy savings compared to a traditional lighting retrofit without controls. Designers and installers will be trained to use the technologies. The demonstration results will be used to support development of utility incentive programs to help further drive adoption of ACLs. DOE Investment: $499,795
  • A.O. Smith Corp. (Milwaukee, WI) – This project seeks to demonstrate underutilized micro-combined heat and power (5-50kW) applications in targeted building types with significant hot water demand (restaurants, multi-family, hotel, healthcare). The application proposes to overcome three market barriers: payback, complexity of installation and service and training for installers and service providers. Micro-CHP can provide 38% primary energy savings in these building type applications. The project includes 6 to 10 building demonstration sites.

2013 Awards

In 2013, BTO sought proposals that would advance energy efficiency in small buildings. BTO awarded $10 million to 6 projects, described here:

  • BlocPower (New York, NY) – BlocPower will develop a crowd-sourcing website to help market, finance and install energy efficiency retrofits for 1,500 small buildings including churches, schools, small businesses, and non-profits in low-income communities across the country. As part of an initial pilot program, the project will target small building retrofits in Boston, Massachusetts; Cleveland, Ohio; Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina; and Baltimore, Maryland. BlocPower will also partner with companies in these areas to train local residents in small building retrofits. DOE investment: $1.9 million 
  • EcoCity Partners (St. Petersburg, FL) – EcoCity Partners will lead a project to design and offer pre-packaged technology retrofit options by building type and size, business type, and climate zone to help small commercial building owners identify the best approach. The project will also help evaluate commercial property assessed clean energy (PACE) financing for small buildings and aims to conduct audits and retrofits at 50 buildings under a pilot program. DOE Investment: $322,978
  • Ecology Action of Santa Cruz, Inc. (Santa Cruz, CA) – Ecology Action will leverage its existing network of contractors to use low-cost, high-impact tools to analyze and implement deep energy retrofits and financing options that are appropriate to small buildings. These efforts are expected to reach about 900 small buildings and support retrofits in at least 300 small buildings in northern California. DOE investment: $2 million
  • Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley, CA) –  Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is partnering with Architecture 2030 to develop a 2030 District program for small commercial office and retail buildings, including a technical toolkit that provides guidance and resources for building owners and operators. The guidance will also include financial modeling and best practices on service agreements and partnerships that can lower transaction costs for small commercial projects. At its initial stage the project will impact 25 to 40 buildings across the current fleet of 2030 Districts, including Seattle, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Los Angeles. By 2015, the project expects to support five to 10 new 2030 Districts nationwide. DOE investment: $2 million
  • National Trust for Historic Preservation (Washington, DC) – The National Trust for Historic Preservation will partner with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to provide low-cost energy efficiency services to small businesses in California, Wisconsin, New York, and Washington State, leveraging the Trust’s National Main Street Center – a network of communities focused on preservation-based economic revitalization. The project will also analyze Green Button data from over 10,000 buildings in these states to unearth new opportunities for energy savings. DOE investment: $2 million
  • Southface Energy Institute (Atlanta, GA) – Southface Energy Institute will help develop simple, affordable energy efficiency evaluation and upgrade tools that meet or exceed the Architecture 2030 Challenge targets, including a 50 percent energy improvement in new construction and a 20 percent energy improvement from upgrades to existing buildings. The institute will also partner with Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Georgia Tech to develop training materials to help local contractors to conduct energy audits for about 240 small buildings in the Atlanta, Georgia metro area. DOE investment: $1.9 million