Controls and Integration Science to Embed EE and DERs into Advanced Manufacturing of Buildings

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Lead Performer: National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) — Golden, CO
Partners:
-- Factory OS, Vallejo — CA
-- Full Stack Modular — NYC
-- Vaughn Buckley Construction — Philadelphia PA
FY19 DOE Funding: $1,500,000
Project Term: October 1, 2018 — September 30, 2021
Funding Type: Lab Call

Project Objective

The U.S. building industry is beginning to use advanced manufacturing techniques to enable standardization in construction, which creates an opportunity for additional energy efficiency and load flexibility measures. These manufacturing techniques have the potential to reduce costs by accelerating construction timelines and decreasing delivery times. The hotel and multifamily housing sectors in particular appear to be adopting these advanced manufacturing techniques. This opportunity offers great potential for the integration of cost-effective energy efficiency and distributed energy strategies into standard modular units. However, there are multiple barriers to system integrations including 1) installation, commissioning, and configuration of optimal control, 2) installation quality of thermal components and air barriers, 3) use of modular HVAC and domestic hot water, and 4) cost-effective integration for new grid-friendly design and emerging technologies.

The inside of a large warehouse with a construction project going on and workers walking around it.
The exterior of a commercial building on a city block.
An outdoor shot of a construction site with construction workers in bright vests and hard hats looking at a project.
A row of storage containers lined up in a parking lot.

This project will address these barriers and explore how the advanced manufacturing of buildings and systems could lead to cost-effective grid-responsive and/or zero energy ready buildings. The research team will examine how these techniques and technologies can help to achieve optimal integration of energy-efficiency strategies into common construction methods at little additional cost. A key effort will be to develop automated processes for energy-efficient factory construction and onsite module assembly.

Project Impact

This project will support the optimal integration of energy-efficiency strategies and control systems into common construction methods through advanced manufacturing techniques in the emerging off-site construction industry. These techniques have the potential to provide load flexibility measures and increase the overall energy efficiency of new buildings, while streamlining the construction process.

Contacts

DOE Technology Manager: Amy Jiron
Lead Performer: Shanti Pless, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

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