ARPA-E Announces 15 New Projects to Reduce Energy Use in Buildings

ARPA-E today announced $20 million in funding for 15 projects that will develop a new class of sensor systems to enable significant energy savings via reduced demand for heating and cooling in residential and commercial buildings. ARPA-E’s Saving Energy Nationwide in Structures with Occupancy Recognition (SENSOR) program will support innovative and highly accurate presence sensors and occupant counters that optimize heating, cooling, and ventilation (HVAC) of buildings while reducing cost and slashing energy use. 

About 13% of all energy produced in the United States today is used to heat, cool, and ventilate buildings. HVAC is the largest consumer of energy in commercial buildings, totaling 37% of all energy used in this sector. Much of this energy is wasted by heating, cooling and over-ventilating unoccupied or partially occupied spaces. Due to a lack of accurate and reliable occupancy information, existing building automation and control systems are limited in their ability to substantially reduce HVAC energy use.  

SENSOR project teams can take advantage of existing low cost wireless and electronic communication technologies, and each will focus on one or more of four areas: 1) human presence sensors for residential use, 2) occupant-counting sensors for commercial use, 3) low-cost CO2 sensors to enable optimized building ventilation, and 4) real-world testing and energy savings validation of these technologies. SENSOR technologies could reduce HVAC energy usage by 30% in both commercial and residential settings while simultaneously addressing user requirements for cost, privacy, and usability. 

Further details on the SENSOR program can be found HERE, and details on the 15 projects can be found HERE