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Building weatherization systems to be tested in new Syracuse Center of Excellence laboratory
Building weatherization systems to be tested in new Syracuse Center of Excellence laboratoryApril 08, 2009Martin Wallsmwalls@syracusecoe.org
Two of Syracuse’s signature strengths-robust, four-season weather and expertise in green building technologies-have attracted an international team to conduct a project that will help improve energy efficiency in buildings through weatherization technologies.
Project partners include the Air Barrier Association of America (ABAA), Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), the U.S. Department of Energy (USDOE), the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), Syracuse University, and the Syracuse Center of Excellence (SyracuseCoE). The partners have committed more than $2 million to undertake the three-year project.
The project will be conducted at the new Building Envelope Systems Test (BEST) Laboratory, a unique SyracuseCoE research and development facility located on Syracuse University’s South Campus. The project will focus on the performance of air barriers-systems that control unintended air movement between outdoors and indoors, which can have major impacts on a building’s energy use and indoor air quality. In heating climates, up to 40 percent of the energy use in a building can be attributed to air leakage.
“Congress has made weatherization and energy efficiency a national priority, and I am excited to see locally we have great institutions working on such important projects,” says U.S. Rep. Dan Maffei (NY-25). “Central New York is already known for being a leader in green technology research and development, and projects such as the BEST Lab will only strengthen that reputation.”
The BEST Laboratory resembles a small, two-story house. In place of windows, the laboratory has 34 openings for test panels, each of which is four feet wide and nine feet high. ABAA will install panels that represent various materials and air barriers, which will then be subjected to identical outdoor and indoor conditions. Inside, ORNL will install instruments to measure temperature, moisture and air movement. ORNL will analyze the results.
The location of the BEST Laboratory in Syracuse recognizes the expertise and resources available through SyracuseCoE, such as Jainshun Zhang, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at SU, who is director of the world-renowned Building Energy and Environmental Systems (BEES) Laboratory in the L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science. Zhang, along with other SU faculty and students, will help manage the BEST Laboratory.
Another asset for the project is Central New York’s four-season weather, which will enable the air barrier and building envelope systems to be evaluated over a wide range of climate conditions.
“The new BEST Laboratory is an important addition to SyracuseCoE research and development facilities,” says Syracuse CoE Executive Director Ed Bogucz. “We also are very excited about the collaborative project with AABA, ORNL, DOE and NYSERDA, which expands and extends our network of partner firms and institutions that are creating next-generation solutions for high-performance and healthy buildings.””Conducting real-world research with our partners is essential to develop new technologies for tomorrow’s zero energy buildings and to help assure building code organizations have the best information available for their decisions,” says Marc LaFrance, technology development manager in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Buildings Technology Program, at the U.S. Department of Energy.
“This project represents a new approach to doing research, with an industry and government laboratory and a university collaborating together,” says Laverne Dalgleish, executive director of the Air Barrier Association of America. “This is research that is international in scope and that will be used around the world.”
“The Oak Ridge National Laboratory is pleased to participate in this joint research project with the Air Barrier Association of America, the New York State Energy Office, SyracuseCoE and Syracuse University to address the issue of air tightness in building envelope components,” says Andre Desjarlais, program manager of the Building Envelopes Program at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. “Air leakage in buildings can account for more than 25 percent of the heating and cooling bill of a typical building, and this collaboration allows all of the parties participating in this project to pool their resources to address this critical research need that can lead to greater energy independence.”
“NYSERDA applauds SyracuseCoE’s work and is pleased to provide funding toward this leading-edge initiative. Through its operational studies, significant data will be contributed to help New Yorkers best update our housing stock to the most energy-efficient standards,” says Francis J. Murray Jr., president and CEO of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.
Syracuse Center of Excellence (syracusecoe.org) is a collaborative organization of more than 200 businesses and institutions that creates innovations for sustainable built and urban environments. SyracuseCoE members work on research, development and educational projects relating to clean and renewable energy, indoor environmental quality and water resources.