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Whirlpool and Purdue Experiment with Efficiency

May 05, 2014

An energy-inefficient, late 1920s vintage bungalow in West Lafayette, Ind., will become a living laboratory for appliance and resource efficiency research because of a combined effort by the Whirlpool Corporation and Purdue University.

Whirlpool Corporation engineers are working with Purdue University to transform the off-campus house into a net-zero energy, water and waste structure. Called the ReNEWW house – for Retrofitted Net-zero Energy, Water and Waste – the structure will be renovated to include energy-saving features, solar panels, a “gray” water system that reuses water from sinks and showers and other technologies that promote resource efficiency.

“Net-zero energy means that over a certain timeline, usually an entire year, energy production equals energy consumption,” said Eckhard Groll, project sponsor, professor of mechanical engineering and director of the Office of Professional Practice at Purdue University. “It’s going to be a super-efficient home.”

Plans for the home also call for finishing the large basement into a laboratory environment. Engineers will install an instrumentation system that monitors key data and employ the lab and data collected to help develop a next-generation, high-efficiency appliance suite in conjunction with Purdue University.

“The goal of this project is not only to learn more about resource sustainability, but also to demonstrate how any home can become resource efficient when the right kind of modifications are made,” said Bob Bergeth, Whirlpool’s general manager of builder sales. “After we’ve compiled this valuable research, we plan to share it with our homebuilder partners interested in the benefits of sustainable building. The project will also provide valuable insights which inform our engineers on future product design.”

Ron Voglewede, Whirlpool Corporation’s global sustainability lead, added that the residential remodeling sector is an area that is particularly ripe for efficiency improvements considering that a majority of the nation’s housing stock was built before the first energy crisis and with little regard for resource efficiency.
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