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ORNL crowdsourcing site advances building technologies ideas to the market

James White, Rod Stucker and James Rowland, winners of DOE's inaugural Buildings Crowdsourcing Community Campaign, joined GE Appliance’s Venkat Venkatakrishnan and DOE Assistant Secretary David Danielson for a panel discussion at EERE Industry Day at ORNL.

September 24, 2015 – Winners of the inaugural Buildings Crowdsourcing Community Campaign were announced today at the Department of Energy’s Industry Day event at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

ORNL launched the crowdsourcing platform in March 2015 to give innovators an opportunity to present ideas for new technologies for energy efficient buildings to private and public sector leaders in research and development, with the goal of bridging the gap between cutting-edge ideas and the marketplace.

“We’ve reached out for new ideas—not telling, but listening to innovators who can play a pivotal role in R&D of energy-efficient technologies that reduce energy costs for our homes and other buildings,” said Melissa Voss Lapsa, ORNL’s Group Leader for Whole-Building and Community Integration.

More than 300 users, including students, designers and small businesses, participated this year, voting and commenting on proposals in three campaigns: Equipment & Appliances, Sensors & Controls, and Envelope Technologies.

The top three building technologies were chosen based on user votes and evaluations by nine independent judges across the three campaigns. Winners presented their ideas at the Industry Day event, hosted at ORNL by DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

James Rowland, Mark Walter and Matthew O’Kelly won the Equipment & Appliances Campaign with the prototype they developed at Ohio State University. Rowland, an engineer at Priority Designs, an industrial design and engineering consulting firm in Columbus, Ohio, presented the team’s concept for a hybrid air-water conditioner that exploits synergies between conditioning and dehumidification of indoor air, ventilation and hot water heating to significantly reduce energy expenditures associated with these processes.

Jim White, Senior Energy Conservation Engineer at Chelan County Public Utility District in Washington state, won in the Sensors and Controls campaign for his design for variable air volume (VAV) mixing boxes. His design, which included combining temperature and carbon dioxide sensors to control minimum airflow settings of individual VAV boxes, could yield significant energy savings. A model of the concept was 3-D printed and exhibited at the Industry Day event at ORNL.

Rod Stucker, an entrepreneur and owner of RM Enterprises in Idaho, was chosen as the winner of the Envelope Technologies Campaign. Stucker’s idea entails a novel approach to installing high performance expanded polysterene (EPS) foam window frames and insulated glass units at job sites. This concept would both reduce the risks of improper installation and ensure a tight, well insulated and energy-saving window package.

Following the success of DOE’s first Buildings Crowdsourcing Community Campaign, DOE Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, David Danielson, has launched a second crowdsourcing competition called JUMP, or Join in discussion, Unveil innovation, Motivate transformation, and Promote technology to market.

“With JUMP, ORNL is engaging directly with industry partners, developing crowdsourcing campaigns to address pressing industry challenges and accelerate the next generation of energy efficient building technologies,” Lapsa said.

Four industry partners—A.O. Smith, GE, Honeywell, and United Technologies Research Center—intend to partner with ORNL on the JUMP crowdsourcing campaign to assist in the rapid innovation and commercialization efforts of premier ideas. Industry partners intend to provide cash awards that range between $3,000 and $5,000 for winning ideas. In addition, ORNL may provide in-kind technical support in the validation, testing, and prototyping of winning ideas.

For more information and updates on JUMP, DOE’s Buildings Crowdsourcing Campaign, visit

Support for the project was provided by DOE’s Building Technologies Office, within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). EERE works with private industry, universities, and national laboratories to accelerate the development and facilitate deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and market-based solutions that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality.

ORNL is managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy's Office of Science. DOE's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit – By Ashanti B. Washington