UCF Awarded Department of Energy Grant to Study Method for Reducing Energy Use by 50-75% in Older Homes

UCF, one of seven teams selected by the Department of Energy to demonstrate innovative building energy retrofits, will determine if a pod system with heating and cooling capabilities is effective for retrofitting thousands of homes, including affordable housing.

PV-GEMS prototype pod system comprised of 300W PV modules, a heat pump water heater, minisplit AC, battery and controller.
PV-GEMS prototype systems were designed with energy simulations in Phase 1, while this award for Phase 2 will be demonstration and deployment. Illustration Credit: Nick Waters.

ORLANDO, March 30, 2022 – The University of Central Florida was recently awarded a grant worth $4.4 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to determine if a pre-packaged pod is an effective method to deploy very efficient heating, cooling and water heating systems to thousands of homes.

The DOE awarded $32 million to seven teams that will manage 30 demonstration projects nationwide. Finding effective ways to retrofit existing and older buildings to be more energy efficient is critical considering there are 130 million buildings in the United States today and about 75% of them are expected to still be standing in 2050, according to the DOE. Upgrading older homes is often expensive and intrusive, which makes homeowners less likely to make the investment. The pod system holds promise because it is expected to reduce energy use by 50-75% and is less disruptive to install, according to researchers.

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EnergyWhiz Virtual Showcases Renewable Energy and Sparks Competition Among Florida Schools

COCOA, Fla., March 2, 2022—How many energy transfers can you demonstrate in 60 seconds? What is the most energy efficient home for raising butterflies? What artistic inspiration can be found in renewable energy and climate change? These are just some of the questions answered with demonstrations at this year’s EnergyWhiz Virtual.

More than 225 students from 79 schools throughout the state of Florida participated in this year’s virtual event from February 14-18. EnergyWhiz is a renewable energy-focused

Excited students from Bay Meadows Elementary School in Orlando cheer on their fellow teammates as the winners were announced during the 2022 EnergyWhiz Virtual awards ceremony. Photo Credit: Mandy Fillenwarth, Bay Meadows STEAM Magnet Coordinator.

event dedicated to giving K-12 students a hands-on approach to project-based learning activities utilizing science, technology, art, and math (STEAM) capabilities. Hosted by the FSEC Energy Rese

arch Center, a research institute of the University of Central Florida, EnergyWhiz is an annual event that began more than 20 years ago and now includes virtual, in-person and regional options.

Teams from all over the state of Florida—as far north as Tallahassee, and as far south as Pinecrest— showcased their STEAM talents at EnergyWhiz Virtual.

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FSEC Live Webinars: Florida Building Energy Code Changes. Register for March 22 & 23 Classes.

Florida Building Code Energy Conservation Seventh Edition (2020)The 7th Edition Florida Building Code (2020) includes a number of changes to the Energy Conservation code that will impact how new Florida buildings are constructed, lit, and controlled. Learn about the new Energy Conservation code changes and earn continuing education credits by attending live webinar training courses offered by the FSEC Energy Research Center, a research institute of the University of Central Florida. Register by March 15th*.

  • RESIDENTIAL: October 19, (1 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.)
    Overview of the 7th Edition (2020) Residential Florida Energy Conservation Code [Live Webinar]
    In this 2-hour class, topics include Prescriptive, Performance and Energy Rating Index (ERI) compliance options, and discussions of residential building air leakage testing, duct leakage testing and mechanical ventilation requirements. CILB CEUs: 2 general credits; CILB# 0613599; Provider# 0000859. Cost: $99 | Register
  • COMMERCIAL: October 20, (1 p.m. to 5:15 p.m.)
    Florida Commercial Energy Code Compliance: Methods, Tools and Verification [Live Webinar]
    In this 4-hour class, topics include an examination of building energy use contributors, introduction to the 7th Edition (2020) Florida Energy Conservation Code commercial provision changes, review of Commercial Energy Code compliance methods and tools, running sample calculations to assess the effects of specific improvements on energy efficiency and code compliance, and verifying code forms and identifying common errors. CILB CEUs: 4 general credits; CILB# 0613600; Provider# 0000859.
    Cost: $199 | Register

Explore all of FSEC Energy Research Center’s continuing education courses at https://energyresearch.ucf.edu/education/continuing-education/

*A minimum number of registrations is needed by March 15th for the classes to be held.

For more information, contact the FSEC ERC Communications Office at 321-638-1015 or info@fsec.ucf.edu.



2022 Virtual EnergyWhiz Winners

Critter Comfort CottageEnergyWhiz Virtual logo

Grades 3 – 5

1st Place – Team Caterpillar Castle – Sally Ride Elementary (Orlando)
Teacher – Betty Berriz
Students – Zola, Kensleigh

2nd Place – Critter Cottage Crew – Ocean Breeze Elementary (Indian Harbor Beach)
Teacher – Holly Mentillo
Students – Ellie, Faith, Finley, Kenzie, Micheala

3rd Place – Lizard Lovers – Zellwood Elementary (Zellwood)
Teacher – Pamela Owens
Students – Annika, Samatha, Della

Grades 6 – 8

1st Place – Robo-Hamstyer Cottage – Carwise Middle (Palm Harbor)
Teacher – Bettie Rossie
Students – Rita, Matias, Mya

2nd Place – Bunny Builders – Carwise Middle (Palm Harbor)
Teacher – Bettie Rossie
Students – Riat, Matias, Mya

3rd Place – WMS Warrior Guinea Pig House – Westridge Middle (Orlando)
Teacher – Isidra Legarov Jr.
Students – Nethanya, Elza, Emily

Grades 9 – 12

1st Place – Aquaponic Fish Tank – Lakewood High (St. Petersburg)
Teacher – Jennifer Pacowta
Students – Kieran, Borislava, Macie

2nd Place – Birdhouse–GC Team – Lakewood High (St. Petersburg)
Teacher – Jennifer Pacowta
Students – Cayla, Gavriel

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Boosting Your EV Experience!

white electric sports carWhat a golden opportunity for FSEC Energy Research Center (FSEC ERC) to be part of National Drive Electric Week (NDEW) and to support Drive Electric Florida (DEFL) during their September 25th event. Held at Ace Café, NDEW Orlando event gave many in our community the opportunity to show case their personal hybrid and plug-in electric vehicles, while educating attendees on the benefits of an EV purchase during their ride and drives.

Compliments of Arcimoto, SACE and numerous personal EV owners, over 100 individuals aspiring to be EV owners-participated in the ride and drives. There were approximately 65 EVs on display, which consisted of various EV makes and models, e-bikes, electric motorcycles, EV conversions, FUVs and more.Blue, three-wheeled Archimoto electric sport utility vehicle


During the event, I had the opportunity of visiting with many of the exhibitors and I would like to introduce you to several of them.

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