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Minn. project picked for efficiency program

By Bob Geiger
Dolan Media Newswires

Minneapolis — A public-private partnership led by University of Minnesota researchers has been chosen by the U.S. Department of Energy to help develop cost-effective ways of cutting average per-household energy use while improving comfort and quality.

Nationwide, DOE selected 15 projects to receive a total of up to $30 million over the next 18 months as part of its Building America program.

The Minnesota project, called the NorthernSTAR Energy Efficient Housing Research Partnership Team, will apply a holistic approach to building performance — particularly as it applies to housing in cold climates.

The goal is to improve the energy efficiency, durability and indoor air quality of new or retrofitted houses.

The University of Minnesota’s project differs from those aimed only at home-energy performance in that it involves the entire homebuilding process, from the construction delivery system to helping homeowners save energy.

The partnership will be led by Pat Huelman, an associate professor in the university’s Cold Climate Housing Program and John Carmody, director of the Center for Sustainable Building Research.

“The construction, operation and maintenance of our homes use approximately one-quarter of our nation’s total energy consumption,” according a statement attributed to Huelman. “This initiative will conduct the research and provide the outreach needed to support a growing energy retrofit industry.

“The results will be to create new job opportunities that will enhance the performance and value of our nation’s housing stock, save homeowners and renters money, and provide long-term benefits to our environment.”

The project involves scientists from several disciplines, and will use research facilities throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin to help develop strategies for energy technologies.

University researchers involved in the project are from the university’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, College of Design, University of Minnesota Extension, Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment, College of Science and Engineering and the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

Other partners include the Center for Energy and the Environment, Energy Center of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corp., University of Wisconsin-Madison, Building Knowledge, Building Green, Hunt Utilities Group, Verified Green, McGregor Pearce, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Wagner Zaun Architecture.

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