Frequently Asked Questions

Select a FOA to view questions and answers for the specific funding opportunity. Alternatively select "Non-FOA related items" to view system FAQ items.

Question 1: Would a proposal on development of effective high-performance “LI-FI” systems using III-N laser diodes be a subject of interest in this Topic?
Answer 1: Applicants must make their own determination based on the planned approach to address the Funding Opportunity Announcement requirements.  The stated technology may potentially address Sub‐topic 3e: Advanced Lighting Systems.  However, applicants are reminded that any proposed approach here must demonstrate a pathway to achieve significant gains in overall lighting application efficiency.
Question 2: I reviewed the BENEFIT FOA, the subtopics were determined before the comprehensive work of the GEB technical reports. The subtopics are very specific (and narrow to an extent). Will BTO consider new open ideas supporting GEB? Particularly,does measuring occupants fit into what are looking for under topic 1b? The issue that concerns us is the explicit focus on "equipment" and "systems" but missing occupants or the human system which is a critical "technology" or "system" to measure in the contextof verifying demand-side flexibility. From the solicitation: "To achieve this, researchers and industry require high‐resolution data sets about equipment performance...BTO seeks the development of publicly available data sets that measure the performanceof energy efficient building technologies and control systems to provide grid services"
Answer 2: BTO has identified specific topics in the FOA which are of interest for funding this fiscal year.  As noted in the FOA topic 1b “BTO seeks the development of publicly available data sets that measure the performance of energy efficient building technologies and control systems to provide grid services using hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) test methods. Successful approaches will collect and share high-resolution performance data to verify the building equipment’s ability to change the building’s electric load.  Suitable data sets must quantify the flexibility provided by individual components and systems, determine the ease of control, and evaluate the acceptance of change to the occupants; while providing grid service”.   The data sets desired are on building equipment and the impact on the occupants is a measured variable in the evaluation of performance.
Question 3: Will advanced vapor-compression technologies which use minimal amounts of Low Global Warming Potential refrigerants be considered for HVAC Topic 2?
Answer 3: These technologies may be applicable if they are part of a Separate Sensible and Latent Cooling (SSLC) A/C system, a hybrid system, and not purely based on vapor compression technologies. The subtopic focus is not on a “low refrigerant charge systems” but rather on non-vapor compression technologies.
Question 4: As I go through the funding application guidelines, the term Seasonal COPcooling on page 27 is a bit confusing. Is it possible that it is referring to a Seasonal EER instead of COP? The required system performance targetof a Seasonal COPcooling = 12.3 is abnormally high, especially for non-vapor compression technologies. Could you clarify this matter please?
Answer 4: The FOA (and BTO’s) HVAC targets are aggressive in that they match the best vapor compression technologies.  They do not represent minimum efficiency standards. The Seasonal COPcooling = 12.3 is correct for this FOA. This is a seasonal site COP that corresponds to a 42 SEER rated AC unit, 42/3.412 = 12.3 COP.
Question 5: Can you clarify under subtopic 1b the following: In the list of bullets under "Applicants are required to", bullet 2 states "evaluate the capability of building equipment or systems to provide at least one of the flexibility modes, in addition to efficiency, such as those categorized in Table 2." Table 2 lists modes as efficiency, shed load, shift load, modulate load. Because efficiency is a mode in Table 2, does this bullet mean that a minimum of 2 flexibility modes must be explored under the application technology/solution?
Answer 5: Efficiency is one of the flexibility modes which must be addressed with all applications to this sub-topic.  In addition to efficiency, applicants must address at least one additional flexibility mode.  This would include the additional flexibility modes identified in Table 2 or other applicant identified flexibility modes.  Counting efficiency, applicants must address at least two total flexibility modes.
Question 6: Does this mean that only one sort of fuel driven equipment would be of interest?
Answer 6: The Department is interested in innovative technologies that can enable a transformative change to fuel‐driven (including natural gas, propane, and other alternative fuels) building equipment (HVAC, water heating, and appliances). Multi-fuel solutions, such as today's natural gas equipment that also use electricity for their operation; are acceptable under this sub-topic.
Question 7: The other required performance target is "Installed cost per $/kBtu/h cooling in 2019$ = $21". This seems to be a metric for installed cost per cooling capacity, whereas the rest of the language in the section describes a heating system (e.g., "COP_heating > 2"). Could you please clarify whether the sub-topic is seeking heating or cooling systems, or both (although its unclear how both may apply to appliances that generally deliver heat or cooling)?
Answer 7: Heating and cooling metrics were stated to frame DOE's aggressive targets and to provide general direction for proposed advancement.  Approaches may propose single or multiple function equipment and state how the approach is innovative and transformative in meeting the Department's objectives and goals.   From the FOA: "BTO‐provided descriptions, metrics, and targets are intended to be general representations and may not be relevant to all potential technology approaches. Accordingly, applicants must develop and present the proper metrics and targets specific to their proposed approach. Applicants must provide a detailed case as to how any applicant‐provided metrics are meaningful towards technological advancement needed to meet the BTO‐ and EERE‐set goals."
Question 8: In the "desirable characteristics" list, one objective is "low cost, on both first and life cycle bases." However, the "required performance targets" already indicate specific required initial costs and operating efficiency (e.g., life cycle costs). Does this desirable characteristic objective mean something different?
Answer 8: The "installed cost" under "required system performance targets" refers to a specific cost metric, whereas "low cost" under "desirable characteristics" generically refers to many types of cost impacts on a technology.  "Installed cost" metrics are required to be addressed in the discussion.  Additional cost metrics, such as first and life cycle metrics, may also be addressed as part of a "desirable characteristic".  "Successful approaches should address the desirable characteristics {provided} but are not required to address all of them."  Applicants may also provide additional "desirable characteristics" relevant to their approach and beyond those provided in the FOA document.
Question 9: We see on p.18-19 of the FOA that, for Sub-topic 1b, discouraged approaches include those that “are based solely on simulation or demonstration in real buildings or do not incorporate testing of buildingequipment.” For clarification, does this subtopic discourage approaches that solely use demonstration in real buildings? Or does this subtopic discourage any use of BTO funds for field demonstrations of technologies in real buildings? And, if so, are cost share funds similarly restricted from funding field demonstrations of technologies in real buildings?
Answer 9: The sub-topic discourages approaches based exclusively on demonstration in real buildings.    Some level of real building demonstration may be acceptable.  However, the main emphasis of the sub-topic is physical testing of simulated field conditions which allows for flexible control of expanded test conditions at reduced cost and time compared to larger real building demonstrations.  There is no differentiation in the application of Federal versus cost share funding towards meeting the objectives of a proposed project.
Question 10: We see on p.18-19 of the FOA that, for Sub-topic 1b, discouraged approaches include those that “are based solely on simulation or demonstration in real buildings or do not incorporate testing of building equipment.” For clarification, does this subtopic discourage approaches that solely use demonstration in real buildings? Or does this subtopic discourage any use of BTO funds for field demonstrations of technologies in real buildings? And, if so, are cost share funds similarly restricted from funding field demonstrations of technologies in real buildings?
Answer 10: The sub-topic discourages approaches based exclusively on demonstration in real buildings.    Some level of real building demonstration may be acceptable.  However, the main emphasis of the sub-topic is physical testing of simulated field conditions which allows for flexible control of expanded test conditions at reduced cost and time compared to larger real building demonstrations.  There is no differentiation in the application of Federal versus cost share funding towards meeting the objectives of a proposed project.
Question 11: Will we be able to add a partner if encouraged for a full proposal?
Answer 11: A partner could be added or modified if encouraged for a full proposal.
Question 12: Do we only need to submit the Concept Paper (i.e. a 4 page document with 1-page Cover Sheet, 2-page Technical Description and Impacts, and 1-page Addendum)? Or are there additional documents that need to be prepared? For example, the FOA description on EERE Exchange has a number of documents for download (e.g. the Statement of Project Objectives Template, the Budget Justification Workbook, etc.). Based on Section IV. Application and Submission Information in the FOA pdf document, it seems like these additional forms are part of the Full Proposal process and that the concept paper submission only requires one document.
Answer 12: The first phase of the application process is Concept Papers.  From the FOA:  “EERE makes an independent assessment of each Concept Paper based on the criteria in Section V.A.i. of the FOA. EERE will encourage a subset of applicants to submit Full Applications. Other applicants will be discouraged from submitting a Full Application. An applicant who receives a “discouraged” notification may still submit a Full Application. EERE will review all eligible Full Applications. However, by discouraging the submission of a Full Application, EERE intends to convey its lack of programmatic interest in the proposed project in an effort to save the applicant the time and expense of preparing an application that is unlikely to be selected for award negotiations.”
The next phase, after being encouraged or discouraged, is the submission of a full application.  The full application requires a greater number of files, as detailed in Section IV.D.i.
Question 13: Section II.A.i. provides expected award sizes. Does the Department of Energy expect to make smaller, seedling-type awards to support research on relevant but exploratory topics?
Answer 13: The table of Section II.A.i is meant to show the maximum award ceilings per subtopic area.  Applicants should develop their budget based on the resources needed to complete the proposed outcomes and objectives.  It is anticipated that applications will be selected of varying budgets; small or large.  Note that applications will, in part, be evaluated by “The reasonableness of the budget and spend plan for the proposed project and objectives.”
Question 14: Are there any limitations on the funding distribution to subrecipients or contractors?
Answer 14: There are no limitations on funding distributions.
Question 15: Could the Principal Investigator be allowed to submit multiple different concept papers for different sub-topics?
Answer 15: The same applicant could submit a different/distinct concept paper for each sub-topic.
Question 16: Could the same Principal Investigator be allowed to submit two or more concept papers (with totally different ideas and research approaches) for single sub-topic?
Answer 16: Yes
Question 17: In the concept paper, should a rough budget (e.g., total amount of cost) be included in the concept paper?
Answer 17: Please follow the guidelines for the Concept Paper are provided in Section VI. C. i. – these sections include a cover page, technical description and impacts, and addendum. Additionally, the table on pages 52-53 provides a detailed description of what should be included in each section.