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12. Buildings

Maximum Phase I Award Amount: $200,000

Maximum Phase II Award Amount: $1,100,000

Accepting SBIR Phase I Applications: YES

Accepting STTR Phase I Applications: YES


DOE’s Building Technologies Office (BTO) ( is working in partnership with industry, academia, national laboratories, and other stakeholders to develop innovative, cost-effective, energy saving technologies that could lead to a significant reduction in building energy consumption and enable interactions between buildings and the power grid. The rapid development of next-generation building technologies are vital to advance building systems and components that are cost-competitive in the market, to enable deep energy use reduction and lead to the creation of new business and industries.


Applications may be submitted to any one of the subtopics listed below but all applications must:

·         Propose a tightly structured program which includes technical milestones that demonstrate clear progress, are aggressive but achievable, and are quantitative.

·         Include projections for cost and/or performance improvements that are tied to clearly defined baseline and/or state of the art products or practices.

·         Explicitly and thoroughly differentiate the proposed innovation with respect to existing commercially available products or solutions.

·         Include an estimate of energy savings and/or demand flexibility impact as well as a preliminary cost analysis.

·         Justify all performance claims with theoretical predictions and/or experimental data.


All successful proposals must demonstrate that the enabling research completed under this effort will succeed in producing the predicted performance advancement and reduction of technical risk required to move to successive stages of research. The proposed Phase I effort should be designed to retire significant technical risk and make proof of principle of the proposed approach. Phase II may continue to develop the approach, but the fundamental question of penultimate price and performance of the proposed innovation should be well documented and clear in the Phase II proposal.


NOTE: In addition to the subtopics below, BTO is considering proposals in response to Topic 13 – Joint Topic: Advanced Building Construction Technologies. BTO is also considering proposals in response to Topic 20 – Joint Topic: CABLE Materials and Applications through subtopics (c) Non-metallic Heat Exchangers, (d) Ice-storage and other thermal storage-related systems, and (e) Electric Systems – Generators and Motors.


BTO seeks grant applications in the following subtopics:


a.      Remote Building Data Collection Technologies for Virtual Audits and Inspections

This subtopic solicits innovative approaches for leveraging remote sensing data collection and curation techniques to automate the importing of building characteristic data into existing virtual audit and inspection platforms.


Current conditions make boots-on-the-ground audits difficult to execute, limiting the ability to identify energy efficiency opportunities safely and cost-effectively through audits and inspections. Recent advances in remote data collection make it possible to evaluate building energy dynamics and opportunities for upgrades using visual and thermal imagery. Remote sensing data, including visual imagery and other sensor data types (such as infrared or other spectrums) can be processed and leveraged for the pre-population of building characteristics for use in existing building evaluation platforms. For more information on this topic, applicants should refer to BTO’s building data science research, resources, and tools website [1].


Approaches should leverage standardized data systems, such as Audit Template, BuildingSync, HPXML, ASHRAE 223P, and other relevant management tools to synthesize and aggregate remote sensing data for automated import into building energy evaluation tools. Proposals should build upon existing tools to meet the requirements for a remote audit or virtual building inspection and support further identification of energy efficiency measure opportunities on a site by site basis with similar results to traditional auditing techniques. BTO encourages applicants to include identified sites in their proposals where the proposed outcome can be tested and demonstrated in the field.


Questions – Contact: Harry Bergmann,


b.      Building Energy Modeling

This subtopic solicits R&D proposals for new methods, tools, applications for whole building energy modeling (BEM) and closely related areas. BTO’s goal is to expand the effective use of BEM in all use cases, supporting energy efficiency, demand flexibility, or both.


Whole building energy modeling (BEM) is a multi-purpose tool for building energy efficiency. At the individual building project level, it supports optimized design of new and retrofitted buildings and districts, HVAC equipment selection, sizing, and control design, code-compliance, ratings and certificates, and incentives. BEM on prototypical model supports the development of energy-efficiency codes, design guides, incentive programs, and products. BEM also has some applications in building operations. Although BEM typically implies physics-based modeling, reduced-order, data-driven, and hybrid models have been demonstrated to be sufficient for some applications and have both model development and execution time advantages over physics-based models.


Proposals may target any BEM use case (e.g., design, code-compliance, portfolio analysis), any sub-task associated with one or more BEM use-cases (e.g., Building Information Model-to-BEM, model input calibration, quality assurance), any building or project type (e.g., new or existing, commercial or residential, individual building or campus), and any approach (e.g., physics-based, data-driven, hybrid). Although DOE funds the development of a number open-source physics-based BEM tools and packages, use of DOE-funded BEM tools is not required. Applicants should explicitly state which existing tools (in whole or in part) they will be using and which (if any) they plan to develop as part of the proposed work.


Interested applicants may refer to BTO’s draft research & development opportunities document for more information about specific barriers to the effective adoption of BEM and possible initiatives to address them [1].


Questions – Contact: Amir Roth,


c.       Solid-State Lighting Technologies

This subtopic solicits R&D proposals for innovative solutions in advanced solid-state lighting technologies (SSL). There are three subtopic areas of interest for Lighting R&D. Please note that awards may not be made in all areas, and the distribution will depend on the number and quality of proposals received. In all cases, project benefits should be demonstrated and validated as part of the proposed project structure, and clear demonstration of product or technology capabilities is required for consideration for advancement to Phase II funding. For more information on these topics, applicants should refer to the Lighting Research and Development Opportunities document [1].


1.      SSL Technology development – DOE seeks product- and market-facing technology development that achieves energy savings in addition to the 2019 baseline or advanced functionality based on the features of SSL technology. Gains in energy savings and new functionality can be achieved through optical delivery, intensity controls, source and fixture efficiency, and spectral optimization. Examples of product or technology advancement include energy savings in SSL applications include, but are not limited to, general illumination, increased productivity, enhanced well-being, safety improvements, and reduced environmental impacts. 

2.      Manufacturing Technologies and Materials for SSL –DOE seeks additive and sustainable manufacturing techniques and materials for SSL for all portions of the value chain. These techniques should enable manufacturing at scale for a wide variety of product configurations with reduced component count, inventory, and production time with potential for reduced cost. Also relevant are advancements in product designs and materials that advance the capabilities of additive and/or sustainable manufacturing without degrading performance or lifetime of luminaries. Materials should reduce the embodied energy of the luminaire and should be readily recycled, reused, or repurposed. This subtopic supports DOE’s crosscutting emphasis to enable advancements in Advanced Manufacturing as part of the Administration’s emphasis strengthening U.S. leadership in the Industries of the Future; however, SBIR applicants for lighting-specific manufacturing should apply to this topic.

3.      SSL Material Science – DOE seeks research to advance understanding of SSL degradation mechanisms, carrier dynamics, performance under different operating regimes, photon generation and control, and downconverter properties. Research should advance the understanding of material-performance relationships for SSL technologies to enable energy saving and performance enhancement, in a way that improves the technology’s commercial applications.  Application of findings to novel device materials, SSL device architectures (including but not limited to general illumination), or modeling software should be part of the proposed project structure.


Questions – Contact: Brian Walker,


d.      Advanced Building Control Systems for Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA)

This subtopic solicits proposals investigating innovative solutions for the refinement, integration, and expansion of existing building management systems and tools for CEA applications. Advanced building control systems for CEA, can be considered analogous to building management systems, but customized for integration into the unique processes and requirements of indoor farms. Current CEA control systems may include some level of connectivity between equipment of moderate efficiency and are intended to optimize the internal conditions for maximum plant quality and growth. This limited amount of integration/connectivity with other building management systems does not allow for smart decisions to be made regarding how and when equipment should operate to optimize energy and water costs, provide grid benefits while still maximizing plant quality and growth. CEA is a rapidly expanding market and currently DOE estimates that these technologies, when paired with high-efficiency integrated equipment, have the potential to save 50-100 TBTu/yr in the U.S. For more information, applicants should refer to the listed building automation system project pages [1, 2, 3].


Specifically, DOE is interested in proposals in the following research areas:

·         Development of Grid-Interactive Integrated Controls that provide capability for the implementation of demand management strategies.

·         Refinement or expansion of existing open-source building management systems for use in indoor agriculture. DOE has funded research on open-source building management-related systems such as BEMOSS™, VOLTTRON™, and foresee™. These systems have focused solely on commercial and residential applications and would need further refinement to adapt to the needs of CEA facilities.


Preference will be given to those applications that address multiple building end use systems including lighting, ventilation, heating, air conditioning, humidity, and water, and plug and process loads.


Questions – Contact: Cedar Blazek,


e.      Healthy Efficient Buildings

This subtopic solicits proposals for advanced technologies to enable healthy and efficient residential and commercial buildings. There are two subtopic areas of interest for Healthy Efficient Buildings. Note that awards may not be made in all areas, and the distribution will depend on the number and quality of proposals received. In all cases, project benefits should be demonstrated and validated as part of the proposed project structure, and clear demonstration of product or technology capabilities is required for consideration for advancement to Phase II funding. For more information, applicants should refer to BTO’s Building America Program Research-to-Market Plan [1].


1.      Low-cost, Smart Ventilation Systems and Components for Healthy, Efficient Residential Buildings- DOE seeks to identify and encourage development of innovative ventilation system and/or component technologies with the potential to improve IAQ and comfort in new and existing homes, with little or no energy penalty and very low incremental cost to builders and contractors. 


Recent research and field-testing by BTO and others have identified ventilation system technologies needed to help the industry reliably achieve optimal indoor air quality (IAQ), comfort, and energy efficiency in modern, “high performance” residential buildings. Ventilation system performance, reliability, and cost continue to be barriers to healthy, high performance homes, for both new construction and energy retrofits. Furthermore, ventilation is recommended by ASHRAE as the first building-related risk mitigation strategy for COVID-19.


Preference will be given to technology solutions that are applicable to both new construction and the existing building stock. While modest feasibility studies are appropriate for Phase I funding, applications for these subtopics should be transitioning to manufacturing by Phase II to be considered for further funding. BTO strongly encourages applicants to include a strategy for obtaining manufacturing partners by the end of Phase 1 as a part of their commercialization plan.


Specifically, DOE is interested in the following IAQ and comfort control technology applications:

·         Low-cost, reliable add-on sensors (e.g., flow sensors) and controls for improved commissioning, operation, and maintenance of ventilation systems.

·         Smart ventilation/IAQ tools (sensors, controls, hardware, software) that integrate with systems and components to optimize IAQ and minimize energy penalties, based on indoor conditions (i.e., temperature, RH, pollutant levels), outdoor conditions (i.e., temperature, RH, and/or pollutant levels, including smoke), occupancy, and other variables such as weather forecast data.


Questions – Contact: Eric Werling,


2.      Health-Energy Nexus in Commercial Buildings- DOE seeks innovative research, analysis, and development of building technologies and solutions that improve building energy performance and maintain comfortable, healthy, productive indoor environments despite disruptive events such as natural disasters, the spread of infectious disease, and grid interruptions.


With disruptive events such as COVID-19, [2, 3] there is a need for research, analysis and the development of resource efficient, resilient technologies and strategies to support the U.S. building stock in managing healthy, efficient, and resilient buildings.


Specifically, DOE is interested in the following:

·         Measuring, sensing, and evaluating the trade-offs associated with indoor air quality, occupant comfort, health, and energy use in commercial buildings.

·         Research to better understand air transport in commercial buildings, segmented by system type and/or sector under various conditions of re-occupancy and ongoing operation as related to specified resilient scenarios.

·         Development of novel efficient air-cleaning systems, advanced filtration systems, and/or surface treatments.


Questions – Contact: Cedar Blazek,



1.      U.S. Energy Information Administration. “Monthly Energy Review.” Table 2.1. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Energy. October 27, 2020,


2.      U.S. Energy Information Administration. “Electric Power Monthly.” Table 5.1. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Energy. August, 2020,


3.      U.S. Energy Information Administration. “Natural Gas.” Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Energy.


4.      U.S. Department of Energy. “Building Technologies Office Multi-Year Program Plan: Fiscal Years 2016-2020.” Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Energy. February, 2016,


References: Subtopic a:

1.      U.S. Department of Energy. “Building Energy Data.” U.S. DOE, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, 2020,


References: Subtopic b:

1.      U.S. Department of Energy. “Emerging Technologies Research and Development: DRAFT Research and Development Opportunities for Building Energy Modeling.” U.S. DOE, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, April, 2019,


References: Subtopic c:

1.      U.S. Department of Energy. “2019 Lighting R&D Opportunities.” U.S. DOE, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, January, 2020,


References: Subtopic d:

1.      U.S. Department of Energy. “Volttron.” U.S. DOE, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, 2020,


2.      NREL. “National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Home Management System – foreseeTM.” U.S. DOE, NREL, 2020,


3.      U.S. Department of Energy. “Turn Key: Open Source Software Solutions for Energy Management of Small to Medium Sized Buildings (DE-FOA-0000822).” U.S. DOE, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, March 28, 2013,


References: Subtopic e:

1.      U.S. Department of Energy. “Building America Research to Market Plan.” U.S. DOE, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, 2020,


2.      Whiting, K. “Coronavirus isn't an outlier, it's part of our interconnected viral age.” World Economic Forum, March 4, 2020,


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