Posts Tagged ‘energy efficiency’

Energy Audits for Rural Small Businesses

Friday, June 5th, 2015

Revised June 10, 2015

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) offers Renewable Energy Systems & Energy Efficiency Improvement Loans & Grants to rural small businesses. USDA chose the University of Central Florida’s FSEC to provide a limited number of subsidized building energy audits to small businesses in rural Florida communities who are eligible for the grants and loans. Audit candidates must also meet FSEC criteria, which will be determined by a phone interview.

Photo of small town businesses on a "main street."

A limited number of subsidized building energy audits will be available to small businesses in rural Florida communities. Photo: ThinkStock.com

What is a building energy audit? An energy audit is an assessment of the energy use and energy saving opportunities in a building. The business or building owners play a role in the audit by providing utility bills and getting quotes for the improvements to facilitate cost-benefit calculations. The audit report provides recommendations and calculations that help applicants complete the technical sections of the Renewable Energy Systems & Energy Efficiency Improvement Loan & Grant applications.

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Energy Department Funds UCF Research in Housing Innovations

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

By Barb Abney
May 14, 2015

Photo of Eric Martin in lab, leaning on test wall structure.

Eric Martin at FSEC’s Flexible Residential Testing Facility. Credit: Nicholas Waters

 

The University of Central Florida is the only university-led team in the nation to receive part of a $4 million investment by the Energy Department to develop and demonstrate energy efficient methods of keeping homes cool in the summer and warm in winter.

The Energy Department’s Building America program is working with industry partners to develop cutting-edge innovations and resources that will lead to 50 percent savings in new homes by 2025 and 40 percent savings in existing homes by 2030.

The Building America Partnership for Improved Residential Construction, led by UCF’s Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), will receive nearly $1 million for research focused on optimal comfort systems for heating, cooling, air distribution, and humidity control. The project will also study high performance ventilation systems and indoor air quality strategies.

“This research will help us develop integrated approaches to making homes more energy efficient while keeping them comfortable, healthy and durable,” said Eric Martin, the project’s lead researcher and program director in FSEC’s Building Research Division.

Much of the work focuses on cooling applications in hot and humid climates like Florida’s. Work on keeping homes warm in the winter will be conducted by partners at Washington State University.

Experiments will be conducted in laboratory homes located at FSEC, as well as in occupied homes.

“To ensure near-term market penetration, we are working with several industry partners including production home builders and product manufacturers,” Martin said. “But we are also focused on influencing codes and standards, which can result in a significant market impact for years to come.”

A major focus of the Building America program is reducing home heating and cooling because combined they represent the highest single energy use for U.S. homeowners or 40 percent of a home’s energy consumption. In 2014, U.S. homeowners spent $70 billion to heat their homes and $24 billion to cool them. Improving the energy efficiency of home heating and cooling systems and building envelopes including roof, walls and windows is estimated to potentially reduce space conditioning energy consumption by as much as 70 percent.

Over the past 20 years FSEC has led three Building America Industry Partnerships: the Energy Efficient Industrialized Housing Partnership, the Building America Industrialized Housing Partnership and the Building America Partnership for Improved Residential Construction.

STUDENTS OUTSHINE RAIN AT ENERGYWHIZ OLYMPICS

Thursday, May 8th, 2014

COCOA, May 3, 2014—Despite discouraging weather forecasts, more than 450 students traveled from as far away as Key West and Tallahassee to compete in the EnergyWhiz Olympics at UCF’s Florida Solar Energy Center today. The sun didn’t shine, but the competitions went on…well, at least part of them.

In the Bright House Solar Energy Cookoff, ovens were judged only on design. The morning started out cloudy and oven temperatures only reached 100 degrees before the heavy rains appeared. Also impacted by the rain was the Junior Solar Sprint (JSS), a model solar car race.

“We were hopeful the rain would go around us, but not this year. It’s the first time in 14 years that we couldn’t hold the Junior Solar Sprint,” said Susan Schleith, K-12 education coordinator at FSEC.

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Subrato Chandra Remembered

Friday, January 13th, 2012

Subrato Chandra, Ph.D., retired project manager for the Building America Industrialized Housing Partnership (BAIHP) and one of the pioneers of the building research division of the Florida Solar Energy Center, died Jan. 12 following complications from surgery.

A pioneer of buildings research at FSEC, Subrato Chandra, died Jan. 12, 2012 due to complications from surgery.

Subrato Chandra, a pioneer of buildings research at FSEC.

Subrato, who worked for FSEC for 34 years before retiring in 2010, was passionate about integrating energy efficiency into home design and, long before most people had ever heard the term photovoltaics, helped develop the concept of a PV powered house in Cape Canaveral in 1979.

One of his proudest achievements was highlighted in an email he recently sent a colleague in which several FSEC initiatives were touched upon in a listing of the most transformative homebuilding trends in the last 75 years.

Subrato’s compassion can be seen in the types of projects he championed:   As director of FSEC’s research and development division in 1995 he helped the Environmental Protection Agency launch the Energy Star Homes project that has become the most widely accepted energy-efficient green homes projects in the country.  The Building America project he led still works directly with Habitat for Humanity home builders throughout the country to help make housing more affordable for needy families and helps make manufactured or HUD-code homes more efficient.

Subrato led FSEC’s first major funded project in the buildings area with a $400,000 contract on passive cooling by natural ventilation received in 1981 from the Department of Energy.  During his career at UCF he was involved in $14 million of funded projects. In addition to his work at FSEC, Subrato served as a faculty member in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Construction Engineering in the College of Engineering and Computer Science.

Subrato was able to succeed because he always championed the personal relationship over the pure technical work. He communicated equally well with a housing subcontractor and a renowned scientist. And in so doing he was able to have a number of happy employees and help funding agencies achieve their goals. His loss will be felt nationwide in the building research community.

“He was a great teacher, a respected scientist, and a classy gentleman, ” said Craig V. Muccio, a colleague from Florida Power and Light who first met Subrato in a solar engineering class Subrato was teaching in 1980.

Most recently Subrato was working with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory as a senior buildings engineer.

Subrato’s wife Mitra works in the Office of Research & Commercialization and he has two grown children.

UCF’s FSEC Seeks Florida Homeowners for Retrofit Study

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Update: July 11, 2011 – The PNNL Website is temporarily down.  Applications are no longer being accepted from Florida.

Dear Florida Homeowner,

Are you interested in saving money on your utility bills?  Do you wish your home used less energy and was more comfortable? Have you considered investing in a major home renovation? If so, your home may qualify for a free energy assessment, incentives through your local utility company, and free technical assistance from one of the nation’s leading national laboratories.

UCF’s Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) is partnering with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) to help homeowners achieve 30 to 50 percent energy savings through home efficiency retrofits!  If your house qualifies, your renovation will be part of a research study for PNNL that can help inform the nation about retrofit best practices.  (more…)

Florida Solar Energy Center's Philip Fairey Receives Lifetime Leadership Award

Thursday, November 19th, 2009
Philip Fairey, deputy director of FSEC, receives the Building Efficiency Lifetime Leadership (BELL) award from Johnson Controls.

Philip Fairey, deputy director of FSEC, receives the Building Efficiency Lifetime Leadership (BELL) award from Johnson Controls.

Philip Fairey, deputy director of the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), is the recipient of the Johnson Controls’ second annual Building Efficiency Lifetime Leadership (BELL) award. The BELL Award recognizes individuals who have devoted many years of their career to energy efficiency, sustainability or renewable energy.

Johnson Controls, a leader in energy efficiency and sustainability, presented the award at their Green Tie Affair – a customer appreciation event – held in conjunction with the Greenbuild Conference last week in Phoenix, AZ.

Fairey’s nearly 30 years of experience in buildings research has advanced renewable energy and energy efficiency in Florida. His significant contributions include the development of moisture transport control and radiant barrier technology, advanced cooling and dehumidification systems, and energy analysis software tools.
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FSEC to Support Solar-Powered Monorail System Development

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded Sky Train Corporation (STC) and the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) at the University of Central Florida a $100,000 renewable energy collaborative grant. The grant’s primary focus is to fund the development an innovative solar interface to power a next-generation high-speed monorail that will be 80 percent more efficient than rubber-tired monorails in the U.S.

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www.MyFloridaGreenBuilding.info

Friday, September 5th, 2008
MyFloridaGreenBuilding.info Web Site

The MyFloridaGreenBuilding.info Web site offers energy-efficiency tips for new construction and existing homes, information on local green building programs, green rating systems, rebates and incentives, calculators, and case studies on certified green buildings in Florida.

This  Web site was developed by FSEC, directed by the Florida Building Commission and the Department of Community Affairs, to give Floridians a green buildings Web site that promotes energy efficiency and the benefits of building green.

National Solar Tour at Florida Solar Energy Center

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

The Florida  Solar Energy Center at the University of Central Florida  will open  its doors to the public Oct. 5 and 6 for tours as part of the National Solar Tour.  The guided walking tours of the center and its laboratories will give residents and  businesses a chance to learn more about solar energy, energy efficiency and alternative  transportation systems and how to implement those strategies in their lives. (more…)

Resolve to Save Energy: Five Simple steps to become more energy efficient

Monday, January 1st, 2007
Photo of programmable thermostat. 1. Use a programmable thermostat with your air conditioner.Or turn up the temperature setting on your standard thermostat while you are gone. Even a few hours can make a difference in your utility bill.
Photo of compact fluorescent light bulb being installed into lamp. 2. Replace all your light bulbs with compact fluorescent lighting.If you live in a 2000 sq. ft. home, in a year’s time, you could save 1500 kWh and $200! These bulbs can last 3-5 years!
Photo of hand on duct. 3. Inspect your duct system – cool your home not your attic. Contact your local utility for information about inspection and duct repairs.
Photo of hand holding metal ruler in attic insulation. 4. Check your attic insulation.Adding some could help on cooling costs. Also check you door’s weather stripping.
Graphic of partial screen capture of "Turn off computer." 5. Turn it off.Whether it’s turning off lights, or shutting down your computer when it’s not in use, over time, these small efforts can save you big energy dollars.