Announcing CEE's 2015 CARD Grant Research
Recently, 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.
This year CEE received funding to be the lead on five new research projects. CEE is also participating in three additional projects with partner organizations. Read on for brief descriptions and click on individual project titles for more information.
CEE Lead Projects
Evaluating New Domestic Hot Water Recirculation Controls in Hospitality and Commercial Buildings
Hot water usage patterns in commercial and hospitality applications tend to include periods of heavy use as well as periods of low or no use. However, building owners and managers typically ensure that hot water is immediately available at all times via continuously operating central recirculation loops. This project will assess the effectiveness of new demand systems in reducing pumping and water heating costs in hospitality and commercial venues.
Pilot Study of a New Transport Membrane Device for Furnace Retrofits
Few furnaces are replaced before failure, and most older systems are operating at 15 percent lower efficiency than the current best available technology. A new transport membrane humidifier technology can improve efficiency and occupant comfort by adding humidity to dry winter air. This study will evaluate the actual savings of this technology, establish protocols for implementation, and determine the non-energy benefits.
Small Embedded Data Center Pilot Program
Small embedded data centers (SEDCs), commonly known as server rooms, are one of the fastest growing end uses of electrical energy in commercial buildings. This project will gather information needed to pilot a cost-effective, industry-accepted utility program for SEDCs. The final report will address market characterization, customer barriers and opportunities, energy savings and cost effectiveness of efficiency measures, and best practices for cost-effectively identifying SEDCs in Minnesota.
Field Assessment of Cold-Climate Air Source Heat Pumps
Air source heat pumps (ASHP) have significant potential to improve space heating efficiency and energy costs in homes where natural gas is unavailable. In addition, recent cold-climate propane shortages highlight the need for heating alternatives in locations without access to natural gas. This project will install ASHPs in four to six occupied Minnesota homes with heating systems that are common when natural gas is unavailable. The results from the field study will be compiled to show the savings potential of these systems and facilitate the design of potential utility conservation improvement programs.
Enhancing Commercial Energy Code Compliance
Commercial energy codes specify design requirements that achieve a minimum level of energy efficiency in new buildings, additions, and renovations. There is a gap in energy code adoption and traditional code training, representing potential for additional energy savings to be achieved through enhanced energy code compliance. This project will develop and test two program approaches that will improve compliance for high-impact energy code requirements.
CEE is also a partner in the following projects:
Assessing Plug-Load Control Devices in Commercial Buildings
There is a significant need to better understand and reduce plug loads in office buildings. This study will examine a broad set of plug load issues and strategies, including loads from PCs, monitors, kitchenette equipment, and copiers. The goal is to extrapolate measured results beyond end-use specific information and assess plug loads in the broader context of building energy use.
Project lead: Seventhwave
Baseline Performance Survey of Commercial Roof Top Unit
Packaged roof-top units (RTUs) serve the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning needs of a large proportion of commercial building space in the US. Despite their many advantages over other large HVAC systems, RTUs tend to operate sub-optimally and inefficiently, suggesting considerable room for improvement. The goal of this project is to establish a baseline for development of effective utility programs for RTU optimization.
Project lead: Seventhwave
Quality Installation and Retrocommissioning of Condensing Boilers
High-efficiency condensing boilers have been available in the residential market for many years. However, consumer acceptance and market penetration is low, due partially to poor installations that limit energy savings. This project will gather information surrounding installations of condensing boilers. Project findings will be used to recommend best practices for quality installation and retrocommissioning to ensure that all new and existing high-efficiency condensing boilers in Minnesota achieve their expected efficiency.
Project lead: Neighborhood Energy Connection