A team of researchers from the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s (ERDC) Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (CERL) and Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) are working to address challenges of energy efficiency for specific older heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) systems within the Department of Defense.
The team innovatively transitioned an ERDC HVAC technology toward widespread use through multi-faceted outreach and full-spectrum implementation support, making scaled application and third-party financing practical. The technology transfer effort developed meaningful support to evaluate the technology, implement it quickly and successfully and glean more than $150 million a year in possible savings for the federal sector.
“I'm so proud of our collaboration with prospective end users at military installations from the start, and throughout this effort, to provide the kind of help that users need to take advantage of good ideas given their limited time, budget or in-depth familiarity with control systems,” said Eileen T. Westervelt, a CERL senior research mechanical engineer who is leading the project.
The multizone HVAC controls retrofit uses two pieces of equipment — an air flow measurement station and a variable speed drive — and controls programming to reduce energy waste in older equipment. The implementation support tools help a potential user at each step of project execution from technology familiarization and socializing to procurement and performance verification with ready checklists, procedures and insights.
This carefully crafted program to facilitate adoption of a low-cost, simple, non-invasive, field proven technology is now being noticed by others as a model to move technologies from the laboratory to commercial use. The team consulted potential users and technical experts to identify and create pertinent, easy-to-use documents and tools to make informed choices about technology applicability, impact and use.
“Our libraries of procurement details for common systems give implementers a significant jump-start on contracting for the retrofit and verifying correct operations,” said Westervelt. “The implementation support suite is available to download now at the Whole Building Design Guide, (https://www.wbdg.org/ffc/army-coe/design-guides/mz-vv-hvac-controls-retrofit), to start saving energy soon on systems that would otherwise wait for a major building renovation to increase system efficiency.”
For their effort, the project team received the ERDC-CERL 2022 James D. Prendergast Technology Transfer Achievement award in December 2022, and the project’s sponsor, the Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP) is preparing to emulate this product implementation support process for promoting other promising technologies.