Berkeley Lab to Investigate Link between Third-hand Smoke and Cancer

Berkeley Lab researchers have been awarded $1.3 million for two sets of studies to better understand the health impacts of third-hand smoke, the noxious residue that clings to virtually all indoor surfaces long after the second-hand smoke from a cigarette has cleared out. Berkeley Lab scientists first sounded the warning on third-hand smoke with a pair of studies in 2010 establishing that nicotine in third-hand smoke can react with common indoor air pollutants to produce dangerous carcinogens.

"These two grants represent the largest annual total in the history of the Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program (TRDRP) to Berkeley Lab and affirm that we remain on the cutting edge of research in this area," said Berkeley Lab researcher Hugo Destaillats. The team will look at the particulate matter in third-hand smoke, or PM2.5, particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers in size and also further characterize the composition and chemistry of third-hand smoke.  

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The Portable Window Energy Meter — jointly developed by researchers from Brazil and the United States — can reduce energy losses in buildings by measuring and assessing the energy performance of windows without removing them from their site.

U.S.-Brazil Collaboration Leads to Innovative Device That Reduces Energy Use in Buildings – Device showcased by Berkeley Lab’s Dr. Charlie Curcija at National Fenestration Rating Council Fall Meeting

Berkeley Lab’s paintable window coating is based on brush block copolymers that rapidly self-assemble to photonic crystals, which are easily tunable across the entire spectrum of solar energy. (Credit: Garret Miyake, University of Colorado)

Berkeley Lab Scientists Developing Paint-on Coating for Energy Efficient Windows

It's estimated that 10 percent of all the energy used in buildings in the U.S. can be attributed to window performance, costing building owners about $50 billion annually, yet the high cost of replacing windows or retrofitting them with an energy efficient coating is a major deterrent. U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE)'s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) researchers are seeking to address this problem with creative chemistry—a polymer heat-reflective coating that can be painted on at one-tenth the cost.

“Instead of hiring expensive contractors, a homeowner could go to the local hardware store, buy the coating, and paint it on as a DIY retrofit—that’s the vision,” said Berkeley Lab scientist Raymond Weitekamp. “The coating will selectively reflect the infrared solar energy back to the sky while allowing visible light to pass through, which will drastically improve the energy efficiency of windows, particularly in warm climates and southern climates, where a significant fraction of energy usage goes to air conditioning.”

A team of Berkeley Lab scientists is receiving part of a $3.95 million award from the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency­–Energy (ARPA-E) to develop this product. The multi-institutional team is led by researcher Garret Miyake at the University of Colorado Boulder, and also includes Caltech and Materia Inc.

Go HERE to read entire story. 

Cool Roofs Team: Back row, L to R: Paul Berdahl, Thomas Kirchstetter, Hugo Destaillats, Haley Gilbert, Sharon Chen Front row, L to R: Hashem Akbari (Concordia University), Ronnen Levinson Not pictured: Mohamad Sleiman, George Ban-Weiss (formerly of LBL)

Berkeley Lab Takes Home R&D 100 Award for Cool Roof Time Machine

R&D Magazine's R&D 100 Awards, established 54 years ago, recognize 100 technologies and services introduced in the previous year deemed most significant by an independent panel of judges. This year's winners received the awards at a November 3 event in Washington, D.C.

The Cool Roof Time Machine simulates soiling and weathering processes in the lab, reproducing in less than three days the solar reflectance of roofing products naturally aged for three years. Published as ASTM Standard D7897-15, this method is the basis of the Cool Roof Rating Council's Rapid Ratings program. This process is about 400X faster than natural exposure, costs about 80 percent less for testing a single product, can facilitate rapid prototyping and can avoid three years of lost sales worth $4.5 million to $9 million per product. The Cool Roof Time Machine will speed the introduction of high-performance cool roofs both in the United States and globally. Cool roofs can lower a building's energy use and mitigate the urban heat island effect by reflecting sunlight away from buildings and cities.

Read more about the teams research, visit their website

Building Performance Tracking Handbook

LBNL EMIS work featured on

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's (LBNL's) Jessica Granderson was featured in an article on the website last month. Jessica Granderson, Research Scientist and Deputy for Research Programs at LBNL's Building Technology and Urban Systems Division leads LBNL's EMIS portfolio of research work and is also leader of the Department Of Energy (DOE) Better Buildings Alliance (BBA) EMIS Project Team. is a community of facilities managers and building owners responsible for the operation of commercial and public buildings. It offers an audience of 102,339 decision-makers who come to the site for information on new products and technology because it helps them make smarter building decisions.

The article was titled "Finding the Right Energy Dashboard for Your Facilities" and provided insights to identifying tools for monitoring and managing energy use that suit an organization's operational needs. In the article, Jessica provided an overview of the EMIS technology classification framework developed by LBNL for BBA members, the costs vs. benefits of an EMIS, and topics to think about when specifying an EMIS for an organization.

The article also featured BBA EMIS project team member Pat Lydon, who is Sustainability Program Manager at Legacy Health in Portland Oregon. He provided insights from his experience of acquiring and using an EMIS in his organization.

Fudned by DOE's Building Technologies Office, the BBA EMIS project team launched in 2012 to address the broad and rapidly evolving family of tools and services for managing commercial building energy use. Through this work the EMIS team works with BBA members to capture their experiences, make the business case for using these technologies and disseminates the findings to increase market adoption of EMIS.

Proposed ASTM Standard Will Test Ventilation When Cooking, Promoting Safety

A proposed new ASTM International standard will help determine how well a kitchen range hood exhausts pollutants from a stovetop. These pollutants include moisture, odors, and chemicals and particles that are health hazards.

The proposed standard (WK55797, Test Method for Measuring Capture Efficiency of Domestic Range Hoods) is being developed by ASTM International's committee on performance of buildings (E06).

ASTM member and Berkeley Lab Staff Scientist, Iain Walker notes that the standard will determine a "capture efficiency rating" that tells what fraction of the cooking emissions are vented directly outside. A higher rating indicates better performance.

"We anticipate that the standard will be used by the kitchen ventilation industry," says Walker, a scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. "Products could be labeled with their capture efficiency rating, allowing contractors and consumers to ask for higher performing range hoods."

In addition, codes-related organizations and other bodies could use the standard to specify minimum performance requirements or to provide incentives for higher performing range hoods. Also, manufacturers could use the rating to distinguish between classes of performance for marketing purposes and in the development of higher performance range hoods. Finally, ratings could be included in broader home ventilation product ratings.

ASTM welcomes participation in the development of its standards. Become a member at

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While demonstrating its BIPV technology in an occupied building, Solaria, the GSA, and LBNL, will compile data on energy generation, thermal performance, daylighting, glare, and occupant comfort. This information will be compared with non-BIPV windows in

Solaria Solar Windows Accepted By US GSA Green Proving Ground Program

After tests at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's (LBNL) FLEXLAB, Solaria BIPV (building integrated photovoltaics) solar windows have been accepted into the US GSA Green Proving Ground (GPG) program.
Solaria BIPV windows will be installed in a commercial pilot project in Kansas City, Missouri this year to demonstrate their viability as an aesthetic, energy generating solution. The test site slated for this pilot is a federal building in the city. Read full article HERE.

GPAD Keynote: Glazing’s Role in Energy Consumption and What Can Be Done

Buildings account for most of the energy consumption in the United States, and innovations in glass can help curb that trend. Stephen Selkowitz, senior advisor of building technology and urban systems at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, discussed the topic Tuesday during his keynote speech at Glass Processing Automation Days (GPAD).

The conference is being held at the Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa in San Diego.

“Why are we picking on windows? Why not cars?” he asked rhetorically after opening his presentation on the issue of carbon emissions. “Well, because buildings use more energy than any other [sector] in the country.”

He pointed out that buildings use 70 percent of the U.S.’s electricity, and building energy costs are approximately $500 billion per year. Currently, windows account for approximately 4 percent of total energy use and $50 billion a year in energy cost.


Read entire article HERE.

LBNL’s M&V work featured in ACEEE and NEEP reports

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's (LBNL's) work on verifying the accuracy and uncertainty of automated measurement and verification (M&V) models was recently featured in two major industry publications and national conferences.

In December 2015, Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP) published a report titled "The changing EM&V paradigm" in which it referenced LBNL's 2015 study on how well data-driven automated baseline models predicted commercial energy consumption from interval metered data. LBNL's work was also featured in the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) report titled "How Information and Communications Technologies Will Change the Evaluation, Measurement and Verification of Energy Efficiency Programs." Jessica Granderson, Research Scientist and Deputy for Research Programs at LBNL's Building Technology and Urban Systems Division who leads LBNL's EMIS portfolio of research and led the 2015 study was quoted in this report saying "Although it is unlikely that these new techniques will enable the automated analysis of all buildings, there are many buildings that are quite stable and therefore lend themselves to accurate baseline prediction. In many service territories, that number may be more than are currently being touched by existing programmatic efforts"

LBNL's work in this area was also featured at the NAESCO Annual Conference in New Orleans in November 2015 and the ACEEE Intelligent Efficiency Conference in Boston in December 2015. This work has been funded by DOE's Building Technologies Office and is part of a multi-year deployment plan to accelerate industry adoption of these promising approaches to M&V.

For more information visit:

PPG Industries’ online tool, Construct, allows users to quickly build a virtual Insulated Glass Unit (IGU) and calculate its thermal and optical properties. Image credit: PPG Industries.

Energy Efficient Windows to Reach Market Quicker with New Tool

About 10% of the energy used in U.S. buildings—approximately 4 quads a year—compensates for energy lost through windows. To address this inefficiency, architects, engineers, and home-builders are advocating the use of high-performance windows, which are composed of insulated glass units (IGUs) that combine multiple panes, thin film coatings, and special gas fills between the panes, and insulating frames to lessen unwanted heat transfer while selecting for other properties, such as transmittance of visible light and solar heat gain. The optimal IGU properties vary widely, depending on factors such as climate zone, orientation of the building, and building use.

In the past, calculating IGU performance—including the amount of heat transmitted through the unit, solar heat gain, and transmittance of visible light—was a cumbersome and complicated process. To address this information barrier and accelerate the uptake of high performance IGUs, PPG Industries, in partnership with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and the U.S. Department of Energy's Building Technologies Office, released an enhanced, user-friendly, online tool that helps architects and builders select and specify IGUs that suit their needs within seconds. PPG eView Construct incorporates LBNL's WINDOW 7 software engine and is backed by North America's largest repository of glass-product performance data which was developed by LBNL with the cooperation of PPG and other glass manufacturers. Construct allows users to mix and match glass, coatings, and gas fills into a virtual IGU design and to virtually analyze performance under standard NFRC environmental conditions. Users can perform side-by-side comparisons of multiple IGUs and export reports of their selected IGUs for easy inclusion into bids.

"Construct is a great example of DOE's tool development strategy in action," says Amir Roth, Technology Manager for Building Energy Modeling in the Building Technologies Office of DOE. "Our goal is to give the market the foundational engines that they can then use to build applications that target specific market needs. Products like Construct bring advanced modeling capabilities to the market in a focused, user-friendly way, enabling more building industry professionals to use them."

"The Construct tool is a state-of-the-art glass specification tool that architects and other glazing-industry professionals can use anonymously to build virtual IGUs. Glass products from PPG and other glass manufacturers in the LBNL WINDOW 7 database can be viewed for side-by-side comparison of color, aesthetics, and critical performance data", says Paul Bush, Director of Technical Services at PPG. "PPG appreciates DOE's investment in these tools, which allow our industry to meet the growing popularity of building information modeling in conjunction with the proper specification of products."

Berkeley Lab WINDOW is part of a suite of window performance analysis and modeling tools that LBNL has been developing as part of its decades-long work on windows—work that includes the commercialization and widespread market adoption of low-emissivity, or "low-e," window coatings that reduce glass heat transfer. Over 80% of residential windows and 50% of commercial windows now incorporate low-e coatings, which dramatically cut unwanted heat loss and heat gain, and the resulting total building energy use. PPG's Construct tool makes it easier for architects and builders to incorporate low-e coatings and other energy-saving window features into new construction and retrofit projects.

Technology Overview


in October 2015 PPG Industries upgraded their IGU selection tool, eView Construct, with Berkeley Lab's WINDOW 7 engine and its glazing database.


  • Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
  • PPG Industries


  • WINDOW software enables performance analysis across manufacturers of window components
  • Construct's side-by-side comparison allows for multiple window performance criteria to be evaluated and optimized


  • WINDOW allows users to estimate performance of a new window without building a prototype, saving time and money
  • User-friendly online tools such as Construct make robust analysis capabilities available to a larger user base

Berkeley Lab Projects Could Save California More Than $2 Billion Annually in Energy Cost

Plug loads, or devices that plug into the wall, are responsible for at least 25 percent of electricity use in California buildings. And not only is that percentage growing, it's a hard number to manage since "plug loads" include hundreds of device types—from small appliances to electronics to lighting—making device-specific solutions ineffective in most cases.

Now the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has launched three projects to address this challenge and potentially save California as much as 13 terawatt-hours (TWh), or about $2 billion in energy costs, per year. The projects will be funded by the California Energy Commission as part of its Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) Program, which was created to support development of clean energy technologies.

“Consumers are purchasing more items for their homes that plug in, and the electrical grid has to support the energy they use,” said California Energy Commission Chairman Robert B. Weisenmiller. “The Energy Commission is interested in studying the amount of energy used by digital devices and identifying promising avenues for policy to lower energy costs. The goal is to reduce power consumption but still have all the features consumers love and rely on. These studies will examine power saving capabilities in several fastest-growing end uses of energy.”

Full Article HERE

2016 CRRC Marty Hastings Awarded to Ronnen Levinson

Ronnen Levinson has been awarded the 2016 Marty Hastings Award in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the Cool Roof Rating Council (CRRC). Nominations for this award were solicited from the CRRC membership, and the award designation determined by a CRRC Board Committee. The organization recognizes the many years of Ronnen's dedication to serving on the CRRC Board as an ex-officio member, as well as participation in the Technical Committee and working groups. Nominators noted his exceptional tenure with the organization and tireless advocacy forstrong scientific and technical methods.

Ronnen Levinson, LBNL Staff Scientist

Berkley Lab Scientist Awarded the 2016 Marty Hastings Award

Berkeley Lab Scientist Ronnen Levinson was awarded 2016 Marty Hastings Award in recognition of outstanding contributions made to the Cool Roof Fating Council (CRRC). The organization has recognized the many years Ronnen has dedicated to serving on the CRRC Board as an ex-officio member, as well as his participation in the Technical Committee and working groups. Nominators noted his exceptional tenure with the organization and tireless advocacy for strong scientific and technical methods.

The Marty Hastings Award is in honor of its longtime Board member, Treasurer, and Technical Committee member who passed away from cancer. Mr. Hastings contributed greatly to the CRRC and is fondly remembered for his upbeat attitude, enthusiasm, and sense of humor. 

To commemorate Mr. Hastings’ contributions to the organization, the CRRC created an annual award for a volunteer who has made outstanding contributions to the CRRC. Nominations for the award are solicited from the CRRC membership, and the recipient is selected by a Board-appointed committee. As part of the award, the CRRC has made a donation in Dr. Levinson’s name to a charitable organization of his choice. Dr. Levinson chose to support the Arthur Rosenfeld Award for Energy Efficiency in honor of Dr. Rosenfeld’s contributions to energy efficiency and cool roofs, and to celebrate Dr. Rosenfeld’s 90th birthday on June 22, 2016. The Rosenfeld Fund supports graduate students at the University of California, Berkeley who are committed to energy efficiency research and related scholarly pursuits.

Read more about the award in the press release

The energy efficiency improvements for the bench tests on an actual gaming computer

Gaming Computers Offer Huge, Untapped Energy Savings Potential

In the world of computer gaming, bragging rights are accorded to those who can boast of blazing-fast graphics cards, the most powerful processors, the highest-resolution monitors, and the coolest decorative lighting. They are not bestowed upon those crowing about the energy efficiency of their system. If they were, gaming computers worldwide might well be consuming billions of dollars less in electricity use annually, with no loss in performance, according to new research from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab).

In the first study of its kind, Berkeley Lab researcher Evan Mills co-authored an investigation of the aggregate global energy use of personal computers designed for gaming—including taking direct measurements using industry benchmarking tools—and found that gamers can achieve energy savings of more than 75 percent by changing some settings and swapping out some components, while also improving reliability and performance.  Read entire article here.

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Just How Much Power Do Your Electronics Use When They Are ‘Off’?

Once upon a time, there was a difference between on and off. Now, it's more complicated: Roughly 50 devices and appliances in the typical American household are always drawing power, even when they appear to be off, estimates Alan Meier, a senior scientist at the Department of Energy's Berkeley Lab.

It adds up. About a quarter of all residential energy consumption is used on devices in idle power mode, according to a study of Northern California by the Natural Resources Defense Council. That means that devices that are "off" or in standby or sleep mode can use up to the equivalent of 50 large power plants' worth of electricity and cost more than $19 billion in electricity bills every year. And there's an environmental cost: Overall electricity production represents about 37 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions in the United States, one of the main contributors to climate change.

In the name of scientific inquiry, I tested about 30 appliances from friends' houses as well as my own by plugging the devices into a Kill-a-Watt power meter, which can track how much power (in watts) is being drawn at any given moment.

Read Full Article HERE.