In February, the Obama administration announced a multiagency initiative to spur regional economic growth while making buildings more energy-efficient. Seven federal agencies issued a combined funding opportunity announcement of up to $129.7 million over five years to create a regional research center that will develop new building efficiency technologies and work with local partners to implement the technologies in area buildings.

Pointing to statistics that show buildings account for nearly 40 percent of U.S. energy consumption and carbon emissions, the administration sees improvements in building efficiency as an effective strategy to tackle the nation’s multiple and competing challenges of global warming, growing energy demand and skyrocketing utility bills.

The agencies will work together to leverage funding and resources to promote regional growth through an Energy Regional Innovation Cluster (E-RIC) that is centered on an Energy Innovation Hub focused on developing new technologies to improve the design of energy-efficient building systems. This Energy Innovation Hub will bring together a multidisciplinary team of researchers to conduct research and work to solve priority technology challenges that span work from basic research to engineering development to commercialization readiness.

The E-RIC will work to disseminate new technologies into the local marketplace and share best practices with the public and private sectors. It will be based at a university, a DOE national laboratory, a nonprofit organization, or private firm, and partner closely with local or state government officials, while leveraging existing expertise of local architects, builders and manufacturers.

The Department of Energy is providing up to $22 million for this project in the first year, with up to $100 million over the next four years.