CEE CARD Grants: Helping utilities bring energy savings to Minnesotans

Apr 11, 2024
Press Release
adjusting thermostat

Minnesota Department of Commerce has announced grants to Center for Energy and Environment and its partners totaling over $3.5 million for 11 multiyear research projects that CEE will either lead or serve as subcontractor. In all, the Department's Division of Energy Resources announced funding of more than $5 million for 17 projects in its 2024 cycle of Conservation Applied Research and Development (CARD) grants, including the 11 affiliated with CEE. 

Across the board, the newly funded research will help maximize energy efficiency in commercial buildings, low-income housing, multifamily buildings, grocery stores and more; improve the efficiency of residential air source heat pumps, heat pump water heaters, as well as commercial building ventilation; and develop insights into insulation and thermal storage, as well as inform the development of load management, district geothermal and electric vehicle programs.

By design, CARD funds projects to help Minnesota's energy utilities identify new technologies or strategies to maximize energy savings, improve the effectiveness of energy conservation programs, or document the carbon dioxide reductions from energy conservation projects. Completed projects provide utilities with information to improve relevant program designs or create new programs within their conservation portfolios. 

Below are all 2024 CARD projects affiliated with CEE. Each grant total represents the full amount awarded to the project lead, including lesser funds to be paid to subcontractors. For the first seven projects listed, CEE is the project lead and official grantee; for the final four projects, another organization is project lead and CEE will serve as a subcontractor. 

Note: CEE regularly self-funds a significant portion of its research budget to supplement competitive grants. For these 11 projects, CEE and its research associates will pay for research elements not covered by CARD, adding another 5%–10% to the grants below to cover total project costs. 


CO2 Heat Pump Water Heaters for Multifamily Buildings 

  • Grant total: $359,592 over 36 months 
  • Project team: CEE (lead) 

This project will install and monitor the performance of CO2 heat pump water heaters in multifamily buildings. Coupled with stakeholder surveys, the monitored results will characterize the potential savings, carbon reduction, and market opportunity in this hard-to-reach sector. 

Establishing Protocols for a Commercial ERV Tune-Up Service 

  • Grant total: $277,413 over 36 months 
  • Project team: CEE (lead)  

This project will work closely with vendors, building owners, and ECO staff to gain a current, comprehensive understanding of market and technical issues related to the proposed ERV tune-up service. The results will be used to estimate potential statewide impact, refine the protocol, develop ECO recommendations, and develop TRM recommendations. 

Continuous Exterior Insulation: A cold climate solution for deep savings and a pathway to cost-effective electrification 

  • Grant total: $444,388 over 36 months 
  • Project team: CEE (lead), with subcontractor Wonderwoman Construction 

This project will install continuous exterior insulation during cladding replacement on 10 homes. It will measure efficacy of CEI to lower heating and cooling loads, document projects to identify logistical and other project barriers, and model the impact of CEI on decarbonization and electrification efforts. 

Realizing the Potential Savings from Floating Suction Pressure Control in Minnesota’s Existing Grocery Stores 

  • Grant total: $494,561 over 36 months 
  • Project team: CEE (lead), with subcontractor VEIC 

This project will conduct field monitoring of floating suction pressure controls in grocery store refrigeration systems in Minnesota. The monitored results will be combined with detailed assessments of market issues and technical site-specific variables affecting costs and savings to develop detailed recommendations for cost-effective ECO program promotion and a new TRM measure. 

Heat Pumps with Thermal Storage: Efficient and resilient electric space heating 

  • Grant total: $434,635 over 36 months 
  • Project team: CEE (lead), with subcontractors Harvey Mudd College, Emanant Systems 

This project will evaluate at least two different commercially available thermal storage technologies that address many shortcomings with cold climate heat pumps for space heating in Minnesota. It will test technologies that integrate heat pumps with thermal storage to enable efficient electric space heating without the need for combustion backup or excessive electricity demand. 

Industrial Process Electrification Through Heat Pump Adoption for Process Loads 

  • Grant total: $257,792 over 18 months 
  • Project team: CEE (lead), with subcontractor Graphet 

This project will explore opportunities in industrial heat pumps to electrify manufacturing processes that use direct combustion of natural gas to create process heat. It will consider the ways industrial heat pump applications can complement existing natural gas unit operations by upgrading waste energy streams to higher temperatures, saving total energy. 

Packaged Terminal Air Conditioner Replacement Field Study 

  • Grant total: $388,411 over 36 months 
  • Project team: CEE (lead) 

This project will determine the energy savings potential in Minnesota of cold climate heat pump systems that can replace or displace heating and cooling operation by packaged terminal air conditioning systems. A field study in all-electric buildings that contain PTACs will be compared against baseline heating and cooling to determine overall energy savings and system performance. 

Right-Sizing Water Distribution Pipes and Water Heating Systems to Save Energy and Reduce Building Costs  

  • Grant total: $299,110 over 24 months 
  • Project team: 2050 Partners, GKA (lead), with subcontractor CEE 

This project will demonstrate the need and ability to reduce plumbing distribution system sizes through the evaluation of prior collected water usage data and primary research. Measured field data will serve to update plumbing guides that can reduce plumbing materials and costs, as well DHW operating costs. 

Consistent Load Shapes for Fuel-switching Tests and Assessing Flexible Load Potential 

  • Grant total: $222,335 over 24 months 
  • Project team: Cadmus Group (lead), with subcontractor CEE 

This project will define methodologies for developing measure load profiles. It will deliver a library of load shapes for high-priority fuel switching and load management measures. The findings will serve new statutory ECO language that enables load management program offerings as well as fuel switching to reduce source energy and emissions over measure lifetimes. 

Advanced Connected Diagnostics for Commissioning Residential Heat Pumps and Central Air Conditioners 

  • Grant total: $239,591 over 24 months 
  • Project team: Slipstream (lead), with subcontractor CEE 

This project will explore how to improve the commissioning of new heat pumps with advanced, connected diagnostic tools and software. It will provide a road map for how utilities can integrate connected diagnostics into their ECO plans for heat pumps and central air conditioners. 

Unlocking the Potential for Safe Energy Retrofits Over Inaccessible Crawlspaces 

  • Grant total: $407,783 over 36 months 
  • Project team: CSBR (lead), with subcontractor CEE 

This project will test the application of AeroBarrier in crawlspaces that are too constricted for people to enter. It will monitor the indoor air quality of roughly a dozen existing homes with crawlspaces to determine how air quality is affected by the efforts. 


CEE seeks a healthy, carbon-neutral economy that works for all people. A 501(c)(3) clean energy nonprofit with over 30 years' experience in energy efficiency, we align our strategies behind technical research, program development and implementation, community engagement, policy advocacy, and project financing. Working across homes, businesses, and communities, CEE discovers and deploys the most effective energy solutions to improve the environment and strengthen the economy for everyone. 


Tim Hanrahan, thanrahan@mncee.org