$1.3 million awarded by GPIC hub for energy efficiency research

PHILADELPHIA -- More than $1.3 million in research funds has been allocated to seven projects aimed at improving energy efficiency from the Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster (GPIC). The research is expected to help move the nation toward a 50 percent reduction of energy use in buildings and to stimulate private investment and job creation in Greater Philadelphia and beyond.

GPIC, one of the nation’s three Energy Innovation Hubs sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and six other federal agencies, is supported by more than 90 organizations with the shared goals of national energy independence and economic development. Located in The Navy Yard in Philadelphia, GPIC is led by Penn State.

Through its Opportunity Research Fund (ORF), the group has awarded a total of $1,327,253. The seven successful projects, each eligible for between $100,000 and $250,000 through this annual competition, encompass a wide range of education and research initiatives, including exploration of new lighting methods, the testing of revolutionary construction materials, window shading techniques and a host of other innovative building applications. The newly funded research holds promise for more efficiency and cost savings in buildings, which currently consume 40 percent of the energy used in the United States.

“We are pleased to provide these awards to outstanding organizations,” said Henry Foley, executive director of GPIC and Penn State vice president for research. “The selected projects reflect the priorities and areas of need for GPIC where additional research will contribute significantly toward meeting GPIC goals and spurring innovation."

The seven ORF grants support research, development, demonstration and deployment of technologies, policies, business models and training programs that advance GPIC goals. The goals of GPIC are to transform the building retrofit industry from serial fragmentation to integrated systems methods, to improve design tools, building systems, public policies, market incentives, and workforce skills needed to achieve a 50 percent reduction of energy use in buildings and to stimulate private investment and quality job creation in Greater Philadelphia and beyond. GPIC focuses on full spectrum retrofit of existing average size commercial and multi-family residential buildings.

The GPIC consortium of 24 academic institutions, federal laboratories, global industry partners, regional economic development agencies and other stakeholders last year won $129 million, including $122 million from the U. S. Department of Energy, in a competitive process to become a national Energy Innovation Hub.

GPIC’s 24 member institutions were eligible to apply to the ORF, but members were required to partner with a non-member on their proposals. A letter of inquiry process helped non-members indicate their interest and provide information on possible proposal areas. After final proposals were submitted, teams of independent and internal expert reviewers were compiled, and each proposal was evaluated. Finalists were then recommended to the GPIC Operating Committee and Executive Board.

The ORF proposal review process is managed by the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania (BFTP/SEP) on behalf of GPIC. “We want to thank all of the ORF applicants and the expert reviewers for their time and contributions. We look forward to seeing work products from the winners and new applications during the 2012 ORF round” said James Gambino, vice president of Technology Commercialization Physical Sciences for BFTP/SEP.

The list of approved projects is below. For more information about specific projects, visit http://gpichub.org/hublog/opportunity-research-fund-awards-announced online. To learn more about GPIC, visit http://gpichub.org/ online.

-- “Integrated Lighting Controls with Hybrid Connectivity for Energy Efficiency and Easy Retrofit,” Penn State and Philips Research North America, $200,573.

-- “Beta Testing, Validation, and Manufacturing of Low Cost Next Generation HVAC Energy Efficiency and Smart Grid Retrofits for Commercial and Residential Applications,” Penn State University Center for High Performance Buildings and PaceControls, $146,692.

-- “Demonstration of a Modelica-Based Tool Chain for Rapid Prototyping and Evaluation of Integrated Building Controls,” Purdue University and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, $233,000.

-- “The Sustainability Workshop,” Drexel University, Penn State, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, $200,000.

-- “Electro Chromic Glazing for Improved Performance of Commercial Buildings,” Penn State and Sage Electronics, $200,000.

-- “Navy Yard Operations Center: An Innovative Energy Management, Workforce Development and Education Opportunity for Greater Philadelphia,” Drexel University, Penn State, Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, University of Pennsylvania and Viridity Energy, $161,487.

-- “Construct Baseline Light Commercial Building Envelope to Evaluate Energy Retrofit Strategies,” Bayer MaterialScience and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, $185,501.

Last Updated October 18, 2011