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News Release

University of Minnesota to lead initiative on home energy efficiency in cold climates

Contacts: Jeff Falk, University News Service,, (612) 626-1720
Becky Beyers, College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences,, 612-626-5754

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (07/23/2010) —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 solutions that dramatically reduce the average energy use of housing while improving comfort and quality.

Fifteen projects nationwide will receive up to $30 million over the next 18 months as part of the department's "Building America" program. The grants were announced this week.

The Minnesota project, called the NorthernSTAR Energy Efficient Housing Research Partnership Team, will use a holistic approach to building performance, particularly as it applies to housing in cold climates. Using this approach, a new or retrofitted house must achieve multiple performance outcomes of energy efficiency, durability, indoor air quality and low environmental impact. While most energy-efficiency programs address only the house, a holistic approach involves the entire process, from construction delivery system to helping homeowners save energy.

The project will be led by Pat Huelman of the university's Cold Climate Housing Program and John Carmody of the U's Center for Sustainable Building Research. "The construction, operation and maintenance of our homes use approximately one-quarter of our nation's total energy consumption," Huelman said. "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 incorporates scientists from a broad range of disciplines and will use research facilities throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin to help develop strategies not only for energy technologies but for making those technologies available and understandable to all communities.

University of Minnesota researchers involved in the project are from the U of M's College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, College of Design, College of Science and Engineering, U of M Extension, Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment and the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Other key partners include the Center for Energy and the Environment, Energy Center of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corporation, University of Wisconsin - Madison, Building Knowledge, Building Green, Hunt Utilities Group, Verified Green, McGregor Pearce, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Wagner Zaun Architecture.

Tags: College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, College of Design, College of Biological Sciences, Extension, Institute on Environment, College of Science and Engineering

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