Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) account for 13% of energy consumed in the U.S. and about 40% of the energy used in a typical U.S. residence, making it the largest energy expense for most homes. Even though more energy-efficient HVAC technologies are being adopted in both the commercial and residential sectors, these technologies focus on efficiently heating or cooling large areas and dealing with how the building’s net occupancy changes during a day, a week and across seasons. Building operators have to tightly manage temperature for an average occupancy comfort level; but the occupants only occupy a small fraction of the building’s interior. There is a critical need for technologies that create localization of thermal management to relax the temperature settings in buildings, reduce the load on HVAC systems and enhance occupant comfort. This is achieved by tailoring the thermal environment around the individual, thus saving energy by not over-heating or over-cooling areas within the building where the occupants do not reside.
Project Innovation + Advantages:
Led by Dr. YuHuang Wang, the “Meta Cooling Textile (MCT)” project team at the University of Maryland (UMD) is developing a thermally responsive clothing fabric that extends the skin’s thermoregulation ability to maintain comfort in hotter or cooler office settings. Commercial wearable localized thermal management systems are bulky, heavy, and costly. MCT marks a potentially disruptive departure from current technologies by providing clothing with active control over the primary channels for energy exchange between the body and the environment. In hotter surroundings, the fabric’s pores open up to increase ventilation while changes in the microstructure of the fabric increase the amount of energy transmitted through the fabric from the wearer. In cooler conditions, these effects are reversed to increase the garment’s ability to insulate the wearer. The added bidirectional regulation capacity will enable the wearer to expand their thermal comfort range and thus relax the temperature settings in building.
If successful, DELTA technology could increase energy efficiency, reduce emissions produced by powering traditional HVAC systems, and enable more sustainable heating and cooling architectures for energy-efficient building design.
The innovations developed under the DELTA program have the potential to increase energy efficiency, improve overall building performance, and reduce HVAC energy consumption by at least 15%.
The heating and cooling of buildings generates about 13% of the U.S. domestic greenhouse gas emissions. Through improved utilization of energy produced by fossil fuels with full adoption DELTA can reduce these emission by 2%.
DELTA program innovations can help U.S. businesses eventually reduce reliance on tightly controlled building environments, thus enabling radical and sustainable architecture in next generation energy efficient building designs.
ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Jennifer GerbiProject Contact:
Dr. YuHuang Wang
Press and General Inquiries Email:
ARPA-E-Comms@hq.doe.govProject Contact Email: