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HVAC: A Hot Area and a Cool One

A major area where utilities can increase sales, optimize utilization of existing electric and gas resources, and also facilitate better utilization of energy is in heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.

Two examples of recent note regarding HVAC initiatives involve last week’s Annual Conference of the Energy Information Administration (EIA) and a major R&D funding initiative NYSERDA.

HVAC at EIA National Energy Conference

At EIA’s Annual National Conference, Marina Sofos, Ph.D., offered an interesting presentation covering HVAC and related smart building topics. The paper, “Research and Development of Occupant-Centered Building Control Schemes: An Energy Policy Perspective,” set the groundwork for the Building Technologies Office Research & Development goals and strategies to develop cost-effective technologies capable of reducing a building’s energy use per square foot by 45% by 2030.

The Building Technologies Office uses a platform for energy-efficiency impact analysis to evaluate technologies, estimate the national impacts of energy conservation measures, and provide a common analysis approach across multiple technologies/perspectives.

HVAC Initiative with NYSERDA

In New York state, HVAC equipment consumes approximately 40% of the energy used by buildings and is responsible for 36% of the greenhouse gas emissions in the state.

To facilitate development of new technologies for HVAC systems, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) is making $4 million available for a first-round of innovations for clean energy companies.

NYSERDA’s HVAC technology challenges are designed to bring in new and innovative private sector solutions and ideas to make buildings more energy efficient and support Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s energy goals to decrease energy consumption in buildings 23% and reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 2030.
This first round will be followed, over the next three years, with subsequent rounds of technology challenges, for a total of $15 million to be made available for these technology challenges to encourage private investment and advance the next generation of HVAC systems for buildings.

Each round will identify the number and specific technology challenges to be addressed. The first round has four challenges focusing on advanced heat pumps, HVAC controls, compressor-less HVAC and ground heat exchangers solutions.

“These technology challenges will identify ways New York can replace and upgrade aging HVAC systems with cleaner and more energy-efficient systems, which will lower energy bills and reduce harmful emissions,” said Alicia Barton, president and CEO, NYSERDA. “We encourage those companies applying to be innovative and forward-thinking in taking the next steps to achieve Gov. Cuomo’s ambitious energy goals.”

NYSERDA will accept concept papers focusing on any of the four technology challenges. Ideas could include advanced cold climate heat pumps, integrated heat pump solutions for space conditioning and hot water, or alternative HVAC solutions not requiring a compressor that lower the cost of installing a ground heat exchanger associated with a geothermal heat pump system. NYSERDA will review concept papers and then, through a competitive process, request the best concept papers to submit follow-up proposals. The proposals selected will receive funding to move forward with their projects.

Approximately 80% of the buildings in New York were built before energy-related building codes were developed in the 1970s. Focusing on the next generation of HVAC equipment innovation will significantly alleviate the stress imposed on the electric grid during the hottest days of the summer months, improving reliability and potentially delaying or avoiding the need for utility distribution network upgrades.
Funding is through the state’s Clean Energy Fund.

[Editor’s note: The graphics are from an NYSERDA-funded study baselining conditions of the state’s residential, non-electric HVAC installations. NYSERDA had commissioned the study from Tetra Tech, which provided the final report in July 2015.]


Type of New Heating Equipment (2012 and after) in Existing Homes


NYSERDA Residential Statewide Baseline Study, HVAC Market Assessment





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