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About Emerging Technologies

The Emerging Technologies team funds the research and development of cost-effective, energy-efficient building technologies within five years of commercialization.  Learn more about the:

Key Technologies

Specific technologies pursued within the Emerging Technologies team include:

  • Lighting:  advanced solid-state lighting systems, including core technology research and development, manufacturing R&D, and market development
  • Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC):  heat pumps, heat exchangers, and working fluids
  • Building Envelope:  highly insulating and dynamic windows, cool roofs, building thermal insulation, façades, daylighting, and fenestration
  • Water Heating:  heat pump water heaters and solar water heaters
  • Appliances:  refrigerators, clothes washers, and clothes dryers, etc.
  • Sensors and Controls:  low-cost "smart" sensors and sensor systems, fault detection and  diagnostic algorithm development, and open architecture building controls platform to enable enhanced communication and control within and outside the building
  • Building Energy Modeling Tools:  EnergyPlus whole building simulation program, software calibration and verification, user interface, and middleware applications.


In 2010, U.S. residential and commercial building energy expenditures totaled $431.1 billion, of which $301.6 billion was spent on electricity, and the remainder on natural gas and petroleum-based products (Buildings Energy Data Book).  Total building energy expenditures are estimated to grow to $474.9 billion (in 2010 $) by the year 2030.  Achieving BTP's goal of a 50% reduction in primary energy consumption by 2030 could lead to nationwide annual energy savings of approximately $128 billion assuming a primary energy use multiplier of 3 for electricity.  This equates to energy savings per capita of ˜ $350/year, using the U.S. Census Bureau estimate of the 2030 population.


  • Lighting: In 2012, BTO awarded the first L-Prize to Phillips who demonstrated a 60 watts (W) replacement bulb that uses only 9.7 W to produce 910 lumens (lm) (93.4 lm/W). In 2010, similar bulbs produced 55 lm/W.

  • General Electric's (GE's) prototype for the GeoSpring Hybrid Water Heaters was inspired by DOE research efforts in the late1990s through the early 2000s. In 2008, GE entered into a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) with Oak Ridge National Laboratory to test their electric heat pump water heater, resulting in the final model that uses less than half the energy of a conventional 50-gallon tank water heater. The GeoSpring water heater saves families $325 per year on energy bills.

  • U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) helped fund the design and development of a high-volume, efficient manufacturing system to build high-performance, energy-saving insulating glass units for residential windows. The innovative new system manufactured by GED Integrated Solutions, Inc., enhances the window industry's ability to provide homeowners with windows that can reduce their energy bills.

  • Concept 3D, a software and services company, used Energy Plus  and Open Studio to develop SimuWatt, a photovoltaic (PV) assessment mobile application designed to lower the cost of PV installation. Because of this application, Concept 3D has been selected as part of the DOE SunShot Incubator, which provides early stage assistance to startup companies to overcome technological barriers to commercialization.

  • Packaged air conditioners and heat pumps serve over 60% of the commercial building floor space in the United States, contributing to about 230 trillion British thermal units (Btu) of energy consumption annually.  DOE funded the evaluation of a number of control strategies that can be implemented in a controller. These strategies can be retrofit into an existing unit to improve the operational efficiency of packaged HVAC equipment. The results from detailed simulation analysis show significant energy (24% to 35%) and cost savings (38%) from fan, cooling, and heating energy consumption when packaged units are retrofitted with advanced control packages.