R&D 100 Awards Showcase Energy-Efficient Technologies for Buildings

Three interesting new building efficiency technologies honored at the 2013 R&D 100 awards

R&D 100 awardsSometimes called the “Oscars of Innovation,” the R&D 100 awards are given in recognition of exceptionally unique and useful new products or technologies developed during the preceding year. R&D Magazine started this competition in 1962, and researchers from various US Energy Department National Labs typically take home multiple awards each year. This year, the National Labs won 2013 R&D awards for three products that deserve particular attention from home and business owners looking for ways to increase the energy efficiency of their properties.

Universal Smart Window Coating

Windows with ample sun exposure often create temperature control problems for property owners, as the spaces facing the sun heat up faster and require more cooling to keep comfortable. Zoned thermostat systems and traditional window treatments offer one solution, but now thanks to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory consumers may soon have another option. Researchers have developed an inexpensive nanocomposite electrochromic coating that allows occupants to independently control how much light and heat is coming through the windows. This will help reduce energy costs associated with cooling and lighting.

Heat, Cooling, & Hot Water in One

In cooperation with geothermal heat pump manufacturer ClimateMaster, Oak Ridge National Laboratory has developed a single appliance that can meet a property’s heating, cooling, and hot water needs all in one package. The appliance uses the earth as both a heat source and a heat absorber and can help reduce a building’s energy consumption by up to 65 percent compared to conventional appliances. Plus, having only one appliance may save property owners on repairs and maintenance.

Smart Building Occupancy Sensor

Lighting is the single biggest source of electricity consumption in commercial buildings in this country. Motion control sensors have helped commercial property owners save energy by shutting off lights in unoccupied areas for over 30 years, but these systems are not very precise. In fact, a study found that older sensors only correctly detected whether or not people were present 75 percent of the time. However, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory has invented a better sensor that uses optics and algorithms to check for signs of human presence in a room. Because this technology has the ability to count occupants with high accuracy, it can also be used to manage building ventilation to ensure that airflow always meets the standards for the amount of people actually present.

Looking for Help Improving the Efficiency of Your Property?

We may not all have access to the cutting-edge technologies highlighted at the 2013 R&D 100 awards, but there are still plenty of steps you can take to improve the energy efficiency of your residential or commercial property. Give General Heating & Air Conditioning a call for a complete building performance evaluation to find out what options you might have.