At the Energy Exchange 2016 earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) and Building Technologies Office (BTO) announced the winner of the FEMP JUMP technology challenge to identify underutilized new or recently commercialized building technology solutions. Retrofit Originality Inc. was selected for its high-efficiency dehumidification system (HEDS) proposal, which outlined a unique, innovative, and potentially impactful technology for both the federal and private sectors.

JUMP is a BTO-funded online crowdsourcing platform launched by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in 2015. JUMP stands for join in the discussion, unveil innovation, motivate transformation, and promote technology-to-market. FEMP partnered with BTO and ORNL to mobilize the JUMP community in search of technology solutions that could accelerate deployment of energy-efficient technologies in federal buildings.

"The JUMP campaigns are a great way of connecting innovators to big problems," said Acting Building Technologies Office Director David Nemtzow. "BTO is excited to be working with FEMP to save energy and increase occupant comfort and productivity across building types—not just residential or commercial but also federal."

All JUMP Calls for Innovation begin by soliciting ideas from the public, after which a panel of technical judges reviews all submissions for feasibility and energy savings potential. Nineteen ideas were submitted in response to the FEMP call, and judges narrowed the list to three finalists:

  • Cypress EnviroSystems for a wireless pneumatic thermostat retrofit
  • Energy Focus, Inc., for a "network ready" 0-10 V dimmable tubular LED
  • Retrofit Originality for a high-efficiency dehumidification system.

The three finalists presented their ideas at Energy Exchange, and members of the audiences were invited to vote on the idea they felt had the most potential. With votes and judging considered, the 10-week crowdsourcing effort then culminated with an announcement of the winning technology idea: Retrofit Originality's HEDS technology.

The HEDS technology was developed and patented by Scot Duncan, a professional engineer and president of Retrofit Originality Inc. in Laguna Hills, California.

"We are thankful to the energy-efficiency team at NASA Houston who pushed us to enter the [FEMP JUMP] competition, and to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who provided us the ability to test the technology in real world applications," said Duncan. "Without that support, we would not be on the verge of commercializing a technology that can substantially cut energy waste and solve the relative humidity control problem at the same time."

HEDS technology can have a significant impact on the indoor environment, as well as the environment at large, due to its sustainable design and energy savings potential. The HEDS technology is currently demonstrating energy savings of greater than 40% for its dehumidification/relative humidity control process at two test sites. These savings will be verified and validated by ORNL as a part of the JUMP program. HEDS can be applied in buildings across the entire federal portfolio and around the globe: office buildings, museums, laboratories and R&D facilities, barracks, paint hangars and other military facilities, consulates, NASA facilities, Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers, and almost any other structure that is built in a humid part of the world.

"The winner of the inaugural FEMP JUMP competition exemplifies exactly what the program was intended to do," said Dr. Timothy Unruh, director of the Federal Energy Management Program at the U.S. Department of Energy. "That goal is to broaden the pool of people from whom DOE seeks innovative ideas and to move these ideas to the marketplace faster."

FEMP will provide up to $50,000 directly to ORNL to validate, evaluate, and analyze Retrofit Originality's technology and its potential energy savings impact in federal buildings. ORNL will document the results of this evaluation, which can then be used to promote this type of technology within federal buildings. A case study report is expected to be published by March 2017. 

Visit to learn about upcoming regional events and new calls for innovation. Multiple challenges for energy-efficient technologies in the building space are expected in 2017.

JUMP is an online crowdsourcing community co-hosted by five DOE national laboratories and some of the top private companies in the buildings sector. Participating labs include Argonne National Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and ORNL.