• [ February 13, 2014 ]
  • Iowa Energy Center Partnership Seizes $500,000 Department of Defense (DOD) Energy Efficiency Award


Thanks to a highly competitive $500,000 award from the Department of Defense (DOD), the Iowa Energy Center will partner with the Iowa Army National Guard (IAARNG) and Taylor Engineering to demonstrate energy efficient strategies at five IAARNG facilities.

The funding opportunity comes specifically from the DOD’s environmental research program, Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP), which harnesses the latest science and technology to demonstrate and commercialize innovative, cost-effective, and sustainable solutions. Nationwide, only ten water and energy projects were awarded among the 21 selected for full proposal evaluation. This is the first DOD award the Iowa Energy Center has applied for.

“We are honored to have been selected for this award,” said Xiaohui Zhou, project principal investigator and energy efficiency program manager at the Iowa Energy Center. “It is exciting to work with DOD where our technology has tremendous potential in reducing the nation’s energy use.”

Project Principal Investigator Zhou serves as the Energy Center’s energy efficiency program manager, researching and working with HVAC and building control systems.


The project, Demonstration of Energy Savings in Commercial Buildings for Tiered Trim and Respond Method in Resetting Static Pressure for Variable Air Volume (VAV) Systems, will take the already developed Tiered Trim and Respond (TTR) strategy, a ventilation system control strategy that more effectively regulates room temperature than traditional building control methods, and demonstrate its effectiveness on reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in selected IAARNG facilities.

The ESTCP opportunity helped create a first-ever partnership between the Iowa Energy Center and IAARNG. The TTR strategy could be demonstrated in any building, but ideally by implementing it in a range of IAARNG facilities the strategy can be directly validated for potential use in DOD facilities nationwide. Such a technology could help the military meet its energy-reduction goals and save money.

“It just made sense to take our research and show how it can potentially benefit an already progressive, energy-efficiency-minded organization like the Iowa Army National Guard,” said Mark Petri, director of the Iowa Energy Center.

The project team leaders include: Xiaohui “Joe” Zhou at the Iowa Energy Center, Kimberly K. Dickey at the IAARNG, and Steven T. Taylor at Taylor Engineering. In May 2014, project leaders will start by designing energy monitoring systems for the demonstration buildings and installing TTR software, which optimizes building (VAV) control systems so buildings can operate more efficiently. The project will be conducted in the following Iowa facilities:

  • Joint Forces Headquarters/STARC Armory at Camp Dodge
  • Muscatine Armed Forces Reserve Center
  • Waterloo Army Aviation Support Facility
  • Boone Armory
  • Des Moines Military Entrance Processing Station

The set of facilities was selected for the wide variation in size, function, and HVAC systems in use. The diverse facility selection will allow for tailored TTR software codes to be readily transferred to similar DOD facilities nationwide.

PDF: ESTCP facility map
Map of IAARNG facilities where project demonstration will occur.

Once the preliminary design and energy monitoring systems are installed and tested, project investigators will monitor performance for 15 months and assess cost savings between traditional energy systems and systems with newly implemented TTR strategies. In addition to data collection, investigators will also consult with building users and system regulators to be sure the new system maintains building comfort and user acceptability.

“If this technology proves itself through testing, it has potential to really put IAARNG on the map as a leader of energy efficiency initiatives nationwide,” Dickey said. “Hopefully the experience will give great credence to the technology, parties involved, and energy efficiency as a whole.”

The DOD currently operates 539,000 facilities with an energy bill of $4.1 billion in FY11. Even small improvements in building energy consumption could have a big impact on reducing costs and saving energy. If fully implemented in every applicable DOD facility, initial research suggests the project’s TTR strategy could provide 549 GWh and $49.4 million in energy savings annually.

Beyond the DOD, the project has already received strong support and interest from Johnson ControlsAutomated LogicSiemens Building Technologies, and the University of Iowa—organizations that will watch the Iowa Energy Center project closely to see the potential of the TRR strategy for commercial and residential buildings.

The initial TRR method research was developed through a two-year Iowa Energy Center grant awarded in 2009 to Ron Nelson, former Iowa State University professor of mechanical engineering, and his graduate student, Brian Housholder. The method was studied at the Iowa Energy Center’s Energy Resource Station (ERS) in Ankeny, Iowa, and successfully implemented at Iowa State University’s Hixon-Lied building in Ames. In 2011, the strategy was published as public information in the Iowa Energy Center final project report.

“The process of taking this from applied research to commercialization is exactly what we strive for at the Energy Center,” Petri said. “In the future we will continue to go after awards like this, awards that allow our research to directly help Iowans with energy efficiency.”

Download the press release here.



The Iowa Energy Center has been actively serving Iowan’s since 1990. We support economic growth through collaborative projects that bring smart and sustainable energy technologies closer to market and by providing Iowans with reliable, objective information on energy efficiency options.

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