DOE Receives 32 R&D 100 Awards; eProject Builder Among the Awardees

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) researchers have won 32 of the 100 total “R&D 100 Awards” given out this year by R&D Magazine. One of the technologies that earned DOE an award was eProject Builder (ePB), a secure, web-based data management system that enables agencies and energy service companies to preserve, track, and report information for their portfolio of energy savings performance contract projects, which was designed by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory on behalf of DOE. Earlier this year, ePB achieved a milestone of over 650 projects included in the database and more than 1,000 individual users trained on the tool. Projects in ePB represent investments of $5 billion and guaranteed dollar savings of over $10 billion.

The annual R&D 100 Awards are given in recognition of exceptional new products or processes that were developed and introduced into the marketplace during the previous year. The awards were presented on Friday, Nov. 16, 2018 in Orlando, Florida. DOE’s national laboratories have received more than 800 R&D 100 Awards since the annual competition began in 1962. The awards are selected by an independent panel of judges based on the technical significance, uniqueness, and usefulness of projects and technologies from across industry, government, and academia. View the full list of all 2018 awardees.

Partner Spotlight: Hillsboro, Oregon

The City of Hillsboro, the fifth largest city in Oregon, has taken aggressive action on energy efficiency and distributed renewable energy generation. Hillsboro’s comprehensive Sustainability Plan, approved by their City Council in 2010, calls for a 60% reduction in city facility energy intensity by 2030 and includes long-term goals for city operations and the broader community. As part of the Better Buildings Challenge, Hillsboro achieved their goal four years ahead of schedule to reduce building energy intensity of city-owned buildings by 20%. Their new goal is to further reduce energy use by 20% by 2025 over 2015 levels. The city has also achieved an improvement of water use efficiency of 11% compared to 2012 levels.

Hillsboro has installed over 200 kW of solar generation on their facilities, with more planned, and a complete conversion of more than 7,000 city streetlights to high efficiency LEDs is underway. In 2014, Hillsboro’s Shute Park Library went through a comprehensive building upgrade that resulted in an annual energy use savings of 31% and annual energy cost savings of $5,000. For more information on Hillsboro’s successes as a Better Buildings Challenge partner, view their partner page.

Vermont is Helping Homeowners Reduce Energy Waste, Save on Energy Bills

With financial support from a DOE State Energy Program Competitive Award, the State of Vermont convened a diverse working group to create a pilot project in Vermont and New Hampshire known as Recognizing Efficiency Value through Energy Asset Labeling (REVEAL), which engages with real estate sector to educate and inform real estate agents, homeowners, and home buyers on the importance of energy efficiency in homes. The REVEAL project produced the Vermont Home Energy Profile, an assessment tool that evaluates estimated annual energy use, estimated annual energy cost, and the DOE Home Energy Score (HEScore). To date, 24 HEScore Assessors were trained to provide home assessments to homeowners and more than 280 Vermont Home Energy Profiles were completed.

The state also created the Vermont Home Energy Information pamphlet to provide homebuyers with information on energy efficiency upgrades, including resources for next steps on implementing upgrades. The pamphlet is distributed during the purchase and sales agreement process, ensuring that all new homeowners are informed about their options for completing energy efficiency upgrades. Using best practices from the REVEAL pilot project, Vermont is developing a new labeling framework and creating a "Certificate of Improvement" for customers who have made energy efficiency upgrades to better represent energy efficiency in the real estate market. For more information, read the success story.

REopt Lite Tool Adds New Features

In its ongoing effort to support energy cost savings and resilience for commercial buildings, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) REopt™ Lite web tool offers a new wind optimization module, custom utility rate tariffs, a critical building load profile builder, and a user dashboard.

With this latest release, building owners and energy managers can:

  • Evaluate the economic viability of distributed wind alongside PV and battery storage at a site level to further diversify resilient power technologies
  • Model four different wind size classes, including residential, commercial, midsize, and large turbines
  • Use their specific utility rate based on annual or monthly energy and demand costs to make informed decisions
  • Construct critical load profiles based on the wattage and operation schedule for critical building equipment
  • Save their optimization results and view, retain, and refine previous runs.

REopt Lite is supported by DOE’s Federal Energy Management Program and is a publicly available web version of the more comprehensive REopt model, a techno-economic decision support platform that evaluates a range of renewable and conventional energy technologies and performs complex grid outage modeling, among other capabilities. Learn more about NREL’s REopt analysis resources.

Freddie Mac GreenCHOICE Mortgages℠ Can Benefit Low-Income Buyers Interested in Financing Energy Efficiency Upgrades

Mortgage loan company Freddie Mac announced new enhancements to its GreenCHOICE Mortgages’℠ energy-efficient offerings, including broader financing options to help low-income families reduce home utility costs through energy-saving home repairs and improvements. The initiative is part of Freddie Mac’s Duty to Serve plan, which focuses on supporting underserved markets by financing more rural and manufactured housing and preserving more affordable housing for homebuyers and renters nationwide. The plan includes increased loan purchases in these underserved markets as well as new products, ground-breaking research, and expanded consumer education.

In addition to benefiting low-income families, GreenCHOICE Mortgages will also help facilitate industry standard data collection processes and provide Freddie Mac with an opportunity to conduct additional research to better assess mortgage loan performance between homes with energy-efficient upgrades and those without. Freddie Mac has built strategic alliances with organizations, such as the Rocky Mountain Institute, RESNET, Institute for Market Transformation, and DOE, to increase understanding of energy-efficient features as well as to provide lenders, real estate professionals and borrowers with tools and education. For more information, read the full GlobeNewswire press release.

Infrastructure Investments in the News

$10.5 Million C-PACE Financing Project for a Historic Landmark Property in Downtown Sacramento: The largest commercial property assessed clean energy (C-PACE) project by dollar amount in 2018, announced by Hannon Armstrong Sustainable Real Estate, will be on a new Hyatt Hotel in downtown Sacramento.

Minneapolis, Minnesota Green Bond Deal is a Step toward Climate Designation: Minneapolis offered its first green bonds this October as part of a $112 million sale, which the majority will pay for facilities designed to support the city’s green and climate initiatives.

Rep. Clyburn and USDA Celebrate $13 Million Loan for Energy Efficiency Improvements in South Carolina: A $13 million U.S. Department of Agriculture no-interest loan to a group of seven South Carolina electric cooperatives was announced this November to make energy-savings improvements to approximately 1,300 co-op member homes.