State Conservation Applied Research and Development Grants to Fund Upcoming Efficiency Research
Last 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 three research projects. Read on for brief descriptions, and click on individual project titles for more information.
The energy use intensity for indoor pool areas is three times higher than most other areas within a building, but efficiency programs have trouble reaching these facilities, due to their specialized equipment and because they’re often only a fraction of a larger building. This project will set the stage for realizing this potential energy saving opportunity by developing guides for efficient operation and recommissioning of indoor swimming pool facilities and quantifying the savings achieved through their use. Staff will conduct facility field surveys to define baseline characteristics for Minnesota indoor pool facilities and work with technicians to complete applicable and cost-effective equipment improvements at test sites. They’ll use results to develop energy savings calculators and quality maintenance and operations guides.
Energy recovery ventilation (ERV) systems transfer the energy from outgoing exhaust air to incoming outdoor (ventilation) air to reduce heating and cooling energy while meeting ventilation requirements. This field research will identify common issues affecting the effectiveness of ERV in Minnesota buildings and develop a protocol to optimize their performance. Staff will select ERV systems that are representative of Minnesota buildings and perform visual inspections, functional performance tests, and trend data analysis to identify problems, then determine the potential cost and energy savings from resolving them. With this analysis, they will develop methods to improve their operation, field test these methods on a subset of the sites, and use the results to draft operations guides and trainings.
Tight exterior envelopes have become standard for single family homes, but these construction practices have not yet reached the multifamily sector. This research will determine whether the aerosol sealant method developed by the UC Davis Western Cooling Efficiency Center is a cost-effective way to reduce envelope air leakage in Minnesota multifamily buildings. Research staff will air seal fifteen to twenty units in new-construction and existing buildings, perform air leakage and acoustic tests to quantify the sealing impact, and compute energy savings from building air flow and energy models.