State Conservation Applied Research and Development Grants to Fund Upcoming Efficiency Research
Earlier this week, the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources announced this year’s Conservation Applied Research and Development (CARD) grant recipients. The program funds projects to investigate new technologies and strategies to further energy efficiency. The results support Minnesota’s utility-run Conservation Improvement Programs, reducing environmental impact and keeping rates low for all Minnesotans. CEE received funding for five research projects. Read on for brief descriptions, and click on individual project titles for more information.
Condensing boilers present an opportunity to reduce commercial energy use, but their efficiency is extremely sensitive to operating conditions. Many systems achieve as little as half of their theoretical savings. This field study will quantify how several variables, including building type, boiler capacity stages, and controls, can impact energy savings. The project will determine the potential for optimization through low to moderate-cost upgrades. Staff will use field results and industry interviews to provide recommendations for future program opportunities.
Since 17.5% of Minnesota’s occupied housing units are in multifamily buildings (U.S. Census Bureau 2010), it’s important to consider how multifamily ventilation systems impact both building energy performance and occupant health. Past field research has identified problems that cause excessive energy use and raise indoor air quality concerns. Corrective energy retrofits would save significant amounts of thermal energy while improving ventilation. This project will assess several buildings’ ventilation supply systems; design and implement cost-effective retrofits; and quantify the energy savings, ventilation improvements, costs, and paybacks. Staff will use the findings to develop standardized screening, diagnostic, and retrofit protocols.
Reducing Duct Leakage in Large Commercial & Institutional Buildings
Even when ducts are enclosed entirely within the building envelope, duct leakage can increase fan flow, heating loads, and cooling loads, causing significant energy penalties. This project will quantify the energy savings achievable by sealing duct systems in large commercial and institutional buildings in Minnesota. Staff will characterize the design and installation of existing large commercial duct systems, perform field tests on a sample of systems, and document energy savings from duct sealing. The ultimate goals is to develop screening and diagnostic procedures to facilitate utility energy conservation program-level implementation.
Existing buildings can lose a significant amount of energy through old and inefficient windows, but new windows are rarely a cost-effective energy investment for homeowners or commercial building owners. This project will investigate two technologies with the potential to reduce energy use without replacing windows: window films and window panels.The white paper will assess available products, evaluate and analyze their energy savings potential in Minnesota’s residential and commercial existing building stock, and suggest implementation strategies.
Heat pump water heaters can be an efficient direct replacement for traditional electric storage water heaters, but recent laboratory studies suggest that their performance rating does not accurately reflect energy savings. This white paper will attempt to characterize heat pump water heaters’ capacity to reduce space heating energy use. Engineering calculations will determine potential impacts of several different unit installation configurations. It will also review existing field studies on residential water usage and heat pump water heater performance, then apply the findings and concepts to Minnesota’s housing stock, water use patterns, and climate. Staff will also create two online calculators for rebate programs and homeowners.
by Doug Wallick , DOE/NREL, World Resource Institute