Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) announced members of its Emerging Technology team received the Technology Transfer Award from the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) for their achievements in research and development. Team members Jeff Horn and Joe Shiau were recognized for an innovative energy-efficiency project at a low-income housing development in Lancaster, Calif. The project combined energy efficient natural gas and electric technologies to achieve a near zero-net energy status. Net-zero energy status means the total amount of energy used by the homes on an annual basis is roughly equal to the amount of renewable energy created on site. The results from this project show natural gas is an affordable, reliable and important component in achieving zero-net energy use.
Shiau conceived the idea in collaboration with the property owner, LINC Housing Corporation, while attending a green building conference in 2012. Together, and in further partnership with SoCal Edison and EPRI, the team embarked on a retrofit of 30 units at the property, integrating gas, electric and renewable technologies. The project received significant funding from the California Energy Commission and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
"At SoCalGas we are always looking for ways to test new technologies and develop real-world applications that will satisfy our customers, save them money and increase energy efficiency," said Yuri Freedman, senior director of business development for SoCalGas. "We were so pleased with the results from this pilot program, including a 50 percent reduction in water heating energy use and a 22 percent in electricity use and we are looking at ways to apply what we've learned to other projects."
Natural gas plays an important, affordable and sustainable role in California's zero net energy use initiatives. The SoCalGas team looked at several emerging technologies, and ultimately decided to use only those that were able to recoup the cost in a short amount of time and had easy maintenance.
Some of the gas technology installed for this project included: smart thermostats, solar water heaters, smart showerheads and energy-efficient ducts and sealings. The energy savings led to reduced bills for both the property owner and the tenants.
Presented annually, EPRI's Technology Transfer Awards recognize industry leaders and innovators who help companies deliver safe, affordable, reliable, and environmentally responsible electricity through initiative, collaboration, and leadership that transform research into results in the utility industry.
"The 2017 Technology Transfer Award winners have taken EPRI R&D to new levels to shape and improve an integrated energy network," said Arshad Mansoor, senior vice president of R&D at EPRI. "The commitment and collaboration demonstrated by these individuals and teams not only benefits their companies, but the entire industry as we all have a stake in transforming and integrating the power system."
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