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NIST Announces Funding Opportunity to Increase Energy Efficiency in Commercial Buildings

From NIST Tech Beat: February 16, 2012

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Contact: Jennifer Huergo
(301) 975-6343

The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NIST MEP) and the Department of Energy have announced the availability of up to $1.3 million for training programs to provide commercial building professionals with critical skills needed to optimize building efficiency, reduce waste and save businesses money.

The funding, announced on Feb. 14, 2012, for the Building Construction Technology Extension Program (BCTEP) Pilot Projects, will support training centers to help managers improve energy performance in commercial buildings and manufacturing plants. To compete for the funding opportunity, universities, community and technical colleges, and trade associations will need to partner with any of the 60 nationwide MEP Centers to create training programs that leverage MEP’s efforts to help businesses create and retain jobs, increase profits and save time and money. Training will be tailored to building operators, building managers and energy service providers. The goal is to provide energy performance solutions that could reduce businesses’ energy bills by five to 20 percent.

"In addition to encouraging manufacturers to reduce and manage their current energy costs, this effort lays the groundwork for the MEP centers to work with manufacturers to adopt additional energy-saving products today as well as develop new energy saving products for the future," said Aimee Dobrzeniecki, deputy director of NIST MEP.

The goal of the training programs would be to develop and deploy a workforce capable of “re-tuning” commercial and industrial buildings to save energy for America’s manufacturers. Re-tuning is a systematic process of identifying operational problems in commercial and industrial buildings. It can use data collected from a building’s automation system to identify opportunities to improve building operations and provides guidance on implementing corrections at no cost or very low cost, leading to a reduction in the overall energy consumption.

The Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) has an existing re-tuning curriculum and support materials that were developed for large buildings with sophisticated building control systems. The laboratory wants to scale their program down to suit smaller facilities. PNNL will participate as an advisor to NIST on the re-tuning curriculum and materials, as well as in-building techniques and methods of re-tuning buildings.

NIST MEP anticipates funding one to five projects in the range of approximately $250,000 to $1,330,000 for up to two years. Applications are due on March 30, 2012. For detailed information and application requirements, see the entry at Grants.gov (www.grants.gov) for the Building Construction Technology Extension Program (BCTEP) Pilot Projects under Funding Opportunity Number 2012-BCTEP-01.

By offering valuable workforce training opportunities, the program is intended to support the Obama Administration’s Better Buildings Initiative goal of improving energy efficiency nation-wide in commercial and industrial buildings by 20 percent by 2020, reducing energy costs by nearly $40 billion and creating American jobs.

NIST MEP plans to host a webinar information session in early March 2012. To register, or learn more about the MEP, see www.nist.gov/mep.