US DOE looking for a few - or many - good energy efficiency ideas

Buildings and homes account for 40 percent of the country’s energy use—more than any other sector. That’s why the U.S. Department of Energy's Building Technologies Office is working closely with our national laboratories and industry partners to meet the goal of cutting energy use intensity 30 percent by 2030.

In a recent DOE blog, Karma Sawyer, Ph.D., Technology Analysis and Commercialization Manager, Windows and Building Envelope Technology Manager, reviewed some of the high-tech approaches the agency is using to uncover innovative ideas.

One new method we’re piloting is a crowdsourcing community called JUMP, or Join the Discussion; Unveil Innovation; Motivate transformation; Promote Tech-to-Market. JUMP is an open platform where any American citizen can submit their innovative ideas for improving building efficiency. Today, JUMP is hosting challenges co-sponsored by our national labs and industry partners such as Honeywell, Building Robotics, Clean Energy Trust, and Emerson Climate Technologies.

Crowdsourcing is a method of solving challenges through the contributions of multiple people—from any field—through an open, online platform. It may seem counterintuitive, but research shows that solutions to some of the most technical challenges can be found in completely different but analogous fields. In fact, a Harvard Business School study indicated the probability of solving tough scientific challenges is three times higher if a person’s field of expertise is seven degrees outside the domain of the problem.

JUMP provides opportunities for researchers and industry partners to coordinate and brainstorm with small businesses, innovators, and end users—potentially unlocking different solutions and reducing the time and money invested in the process. Five national labs, including Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBNL), Argonne National Lab (ANL), National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), Pacific Northwest National Lab (PNNL), and the founding lab, Oak Ridge National Lab (ORNL), are supporting JUMP. By focusing the conversation around industry’s technical challenges, JUMP is accelerating the development and market introduction of energy-efficient technologies. Industry partners provide cash or in-kind awards for winning ideas, while the lab they partner with may provide in-kind technical support for validating, testing, and prototyping the winning ideas.

More than 720 users are registered on the JUMP crowdsourcing platform. Registering with JUMP is simple. After joining the platform, you’ll be informed about future technology challenges and other activities. Here’s our current list of open calls for innovation—take a look and share your best idea:

CLEAResult and NREL: Leverage the open, programmable, and sensor-rich platform of smartphones to enhance the way we live, manage, and interact with our homes today and in the future.;

Callida Energy and LBNL: Develop methods for distributed temperature sensing in office buildings to measure air temperatures at each occupant’s location within an office ;

Building Robotics and LBNL: Design and develop a proof of concept mean radiant temperature (MRT) sensor that can be integrated with Building Robotics' Comfy offering;

Clean Energy Trust and ANL: Identify an accurate and stable humidity sensor technology that offers performance improvements over the market's existing sensors;

Emerson Climate Technologies and ORNL: Develop a new air flow measurement tool or system to measure total system airflow across an indoor ducted furnace, heat pump or central AC system;

Honeywell and ORNL: Identify a new, more efficient architecture, such as next-generationDirect Expansion (DX) supermarket refrigeration systems or make modifications to standard DX systems that cut energy consumption by up to 25 percent;

Honeywell and ORNL: Improve new compression technology to reach significantly higher efficiencies; and

Intellichoice Energy and ORNL: Redesign an exhaust-to-coolant heat exchanger to decrease the overall footprint of Internal Combustion Engine Heat Pumps and reduce the system’s initial cost.

Topics: Building Green, Connected Homes / Smart Homes, Going Green, Healthy Homes, Sustainability Trends & Statistics

Companies: U.S. Department of Energy

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