Commercial Research

NREL commercial buildings researchers develop real-world solutions that improve energy efficiency, achieve energy performance targets, and maximize return on investment.

Sun rising over the downtown Denver skyline.

Real-World Solutions

Working on projects with a range of public- and private- sector building owners and industry partners, NREL researchers have developed proven tools and resources to enable building owners to capture energy cost savings and reduce carbon emissions.

Whether involving a single building, a diverse portfolio of buildings, a campus, or a larger community, a proven strategy is to focus on the technically feasible energy savings for a given investment at the earliest stages of an energy-efficiency upgrade. This approach involves:

  • Developing baselines of current performance and existing building characteristics
  • Identifying energy efficiency opportunities in all building systems
  • Assessing the energy and economic impacts of various technologies, giving priority to those that offer the greatest return on investment.

Reducing Carbon Emissions

To hit zero energy cost-effectively, the energy implications of every design decision must be accounted for and tracked from the beginning of the process using an accurate energy model. Radically reduced energy demands result in first-cost capital savings from downsized HVAC and renewable generation systems. These savings can make zero energy cost-competitive, especially when combined with available incentives and novel financing arrangements.

Important strategies NREL has developed to allow all building owners to make zero energy feasible include:

  • Incorporating energy modeling into the delivery process from start to finish
  • Using an integrated design process and whole building systems approach
  • Identifying first-cost savings through smart design and load reduction to achieve energy goals within a capital budget
  • Integrating renewable energy after pursuing all available demand-side savings
  • Coordinating the design process to ensure that all parties are working toward the zero-energy goal.

Solutions for Small Businesses

Small business owners can save significant money and energy, promote their businesses, and cut greenhouse gas emissions by tapping into resources and financing options. NREL helps small building and small business owners by demystifying the three-step process to achieving building energy efficiency and by providing the tools and resources needed to overcome obstacles.

NREL's buildings research supports the U.S. Department of Energy Building Technologies Office and various industry partnerships.


Bill Livingood

Bill Livingood

Group Manager, Commercial Buildings