Green building

Energy Department’s New Residential Solution Center Shares Proven Strategies for Energy Efficiency Programs

The Energy Department today released a new resource, the Better Buildings Residential Program Solution Center, to help illustrate proven methods for reducing energy waste and carbon emissions in U.S. homes. Adding to the legacy of the Better Buildings Neighborhood Program, the Solution Center features insights on how to design, implement and evaluate efficiency programs to improve the energy efficiency of communities across the nation. DOE will host the first of two demonstration webinars on Thursday, Nov. 13 from 1 – 2 p.m. EST.

Now available online, the Solution Center – a one-stop shop for residential energy efficiency program administrators and home performance professionals – highlights proven strategies that Better Buildings Neighborhood Program partners adopted to make energy efficiency more accessible to homes and businesses. During the past four years, the Better Buildings Neighborhood Program worked with communities across the country to develop sustainable energy efficiency programs. This commitment helped to facilitate more than 100,000 energy-saving upgrades in homes and buildings, saving families and businesses more than $730 million on utility bills.

The Solution Center is organized into a series of handbooks with step-by-step guidance for planning, operating and evaluating a residential energy efficiency program. The handbooks offer strategies for helping program administrators and home performance professionals bring home energy upgrades to consumers. Each one draws on the experiences of multiple programs and contains resources such as tools, calculators, publications, videos, presentations and program examples. Users can find information regarding business models, program designs, marketing & outreach, financing, contractor engagement, workforce development, and evaluation & data collection.

All content is based on qualitative and quantitative evidence and best practices from existing energy efficiency programs. It has been reviewed by third-party experts. The Department invites users to explore the Better Buildings Residential Program Solution Center and suggest additional content or materials. Based on feedback from users, the Department will routinely make updates.


Program administrators, their partners, and home performance professionals are invited to register for demonstration webinars showcasing the new tool’s functionality and content. The overview will include a tour of the Solution Center, including how its resources can help in the design, implementation, and evaluation of residential energy efficiency programs. Register to attend:

Through the Better Buildings Initiative, companies and organizations across the country are partnering with the Energy Department and committing to improve the energy efficiency of our nation’s homes and buildings. Visit the Better Buildings Residential Program website to learn more about broader efforts to help homes across the United States achieve cost-effective, energy-saving solutions.

What Google knows about greener offices

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

A growing number of organizations from Google to the federal government are incorporating homages to nature into their office blueprints, not just to earn more green building certification points but to reduce employee stress, improve cognitive function and encourage creativity.

How Ford aims to drive down its energy costs by $7 million a year

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Ford will invest more than $25 million in LED lighting at its global manufacturing facilities — cutting annual energy use equivalent to running over 6,000 average-sized homes a year.

Buildings Energy Efficiency Frontier & Innovation Technologies (BENEFIT) – 2015 Solicitation


The Emerging Technologies (ET) Program of the Building Technologies Office (BTO) supports applied research and development for technologies and systems that contribute to building energy consumption. BTO’s goal is to deliver 50% primary energy savings in the year 2030, relative to the baseline energy consumption projected by the 2010 Annual Energy Outlook.

The ET Program is helping to meet this goal by enabling cost-effective, energy-efficient technologies to be developed and introduced into the marketplace. The ET Program maintains support for the national laboratories in five core areas: Solid-State Lighting, HVAC (includes water heating and appliances), Sensors & Controls, Windows & Envelope, and Modeling & Tools.

This FOA combines an early-stage research and development topic (Innovations) with a later-stage research and development topic (Frontiers) that complement the core funding provided to the national labs and allow all interested parties, including corporations, universities, and non-profits as well as the national labs, to contribute to advancement in two of these core technological areas: Non-vapor compression HVAC technologies and advanced vapor compression HVAC technologies. These topics are combined into this single, relatively large FOA in order to reduce administrative costs and to ensure that only the best applications are supported.

Applications for this funding opportunity are open under the following topics:


Non-vapor Compression HVAC Technologies – This topic includes developing approaches and technologies for heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) that replace vapor compression technologies, which are currently the dominant HVAC technologies due to their scalability, relatively compact size, high reliability, and other attributes. However, vapor compression technologies make use of conventional refrigerants. This research topic seeks to explore long-term non-vapor compression solutions that result in HVAC equipment that does not use refrigerants. Solutions for both natural gas and for electric HVAC equipment are of interest.


Advanced Vapor Compression HVAC Technologies – Regional HVAC solutions offer significant energy saving potential for new construction and the existing building stock. Today’s vapor compression equipment has limited cooling control. This topic seeks to develop equipment optimized for specific environments and that can provide dramatic improvements in energy efficiency with modest increases to equipment costs. Because the building stock increases by only a few percent annually, concepts which are applicable only to new construction will have limited energy savings potential. Therefore, concepts that are applicable to both new construction and retrofits of existing buildings are particularly encouraged.

Informational webinars

Please join BTO’s Emerging Technologies Program for either of two upcoming webinars for an overview of the BENEFIT Funding Opportunity. Register soon, space is limited.

October 15, 2014, 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM ET

December 1, 2014, 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM ET

How to Apply

This funding opportunity is open to individuals, corporations, universities, non-profits, as well as national labs. The final funding amount is subject to congressional appropriations.


  • Concept Paper Submission Deadline: 11/10/2014 5:00 PM ET
  • Full Application Submission Deadline: 1/12/2015 5:00 PM ET

More information


Chicago greenhouse to be largest rooftop installation

Read the full story in Produce Retailer.

Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Gotham Greens and Method Products PBC are pairing to install the world’s largest rooftop greenhouse in on Chicago’s south side.

The greenhouse, designed by William McDonough + Partners, will be capable of producing up to a million pounds of fresh produce annually for Chicago-area retailers, restaurants, farmers markets and community groups. It is planned for the rooftop of Method’s newest plant, which is expected to be the first Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design Platinum-certified manufacturing plant in its industry, according to a news release.

Smart Homes Make For Angry Roommates

Read the full story in Fast Company.

If you’ve ever come home to a roommate’s dread passive-aggressive note tacked to the refrigerator door, you might not want to move into a smart home. Researchers have discovered that the smarter your home, the angrier roommates get at one another for wasting utilities.

According to research conducted by academics at the University of Nottingham, smart meters that allow housemates to track energy usage and how much it is costing the household in detail end up causing more fights than they resolve.

Promoting the Use of Green Roofs on Street – Level Surfaces to Improve Public Awareness about Stormwater Management in Boston

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Stormwater runoff is a problem in the City of Boston due to the urbanization of the area. The goal of our project was to determine the technical and financial feasibility of installing green roofs on street-level surfaces in the City of Boston with the purpose of raising public awareness and encouraging a change in the public’s behavior with respect to stormwater runoff. We conducted interviews with representatives from similar projects in other cities and performed an observational study to determine the possibility of installing green roofs on bus stops for the purpose of raising public awareness. Our research led to a set of recommendations involving the technical, financial, informational, and visual aspects for the design of street-level green roofs on bus stops.