The Energy Department is funding University of Central Florida research with nearly $1 million to develop cutting edge innovations and resources in housing innovations. UCF is the only university-led team in the nation receiving part of this $4 million investment by the U.S Department of Energy.
Researchers will look for energy efficient methods of keeping homes cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
The research, done by The Building America Partnership for Improved Residential Construction, led by UCF’s Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), is focusing on optimal comfort systems for heating, cooling, air distribution and humidity control . Researchers will also study high performance ventilation systems and indoor air quality strategies.
“Solutions will enable high performance homes that use less energy while maintaining comfort and indoor air quality. Package solutions enable homes to be “zero energy ready”, meaning they can add a renewable energy system to offset their annual electricity usage for a reasonable cost either at the time of construction, or in the future,” said Eric Martin, lead researcher and program director in FSEC’s Building Research Division.
Much of the work is focused on cooling applications needed in hot and humid climates like Florida’s. Research on keeping homes warm in the winter will be performed by partners at Washington State University.
“FSEC is a leader in energy efficiency research in the hot humid climate of the Southeast, and has provided research and training on energy-efficient building design and construction techniques since early 80s,” FSEC director Sherri Shields said.
Many experiments will be conducted in FSEC labratory homes as well as occupied homes. Martin said 2 laboratory homes and 5 occupied homes are likely to be used and that research may begin as early as Aug. 1.
The Building America program focuses majorly on reducing home heating and cooling. Combined, these represent the highest single energy use for U.S. homeowners. In 2014, U.S. homeowners spent $70 billion to heat their homes and $24 billion to cool them. Improving energy efficiency in home heating and cooling systems as well as building envelopes including roof, walls and windows is estimated to potentially reduce space conditioning energy consumption by about 70 percent.
“Our ultimate goal is to see our work adopted in building energy codes and industry standards,” Martin said.
Since 1995, FSEC has led three Building America Partnerships: the Energy Efficient Industrialized Housing Partnership, the Building America Industrialized Housing Partnership and the Building America Partnership for Improved Residential Construction.