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NREL provides industry, government, and university researchers with access to state-of-the-art and unique equipment for analyzing a wide spectrum of building energy efficiency technologies and innovations. NREL engineers and researchers work closely with industry partners to research and develop advanced technologies. NREL's existing facilities have been used to test and develop many award-winning building technologies and innovations that deliver significant energy savings in buildings, and the new facilities further extend those capabilities.

In addition, the NREL campus includes living laboratories, buildings that researchers and other NREL staff use every day. Researchers monitor real-time building performance data in these facilities to study energy use and fine-tune systems.

Thermal Test Facility

Photo of the front of the Thermal Test Facility, a white building on the NREL campus, on a sunny day.

Building researchers use the Thermal Test Facility (TTF) for advanced heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning research that includes study of active solar systems. In addition to housing research facilities, the building itself was designed as a research model that provides data that can be applied to buildings designed in the future. Learn more about the TTF.

Energy Systems Integration Facility

Rendering of the front of the new Energy Systems Integration Facility, a multi-story laboratory building.

The Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) provides transformative capabilities to advance our nations energy system into a cleaner, more intelligent infrastructure. This state-of-the-art laboratory building is the nation's first facility capable of conducting integrated megawatt-scale research and development of the components and strategies needed to move clean energy technologies onto the electrical grid. At the ESIF, NREL and industry will work together to develop and evaluate individual technologies on a controlled integrated energy system platform. Learn more.

Living Laboratories

Learn more about buildings on the NREL campus that were designed by our researchers. Real-time building performance data from these facilities is monitored and recorded to inform adjustments and benchmark long-term performance against energy-use goals.

Research Support Facility

Photo of the courtyard of the Research Support Facility on the NREL campus on a sunny day with a few people sitting at tables.

The Research Support Facility (RSF) showcases high-performance design features in a large, occupied office building. Many of the technologies and strategies used in the RSF are a direct result of NREL's energy efficiency and renewable energy research efforts. The RSF uses 50% less energy than a building built to current commercial code and achieves the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum rating. Researchers working in the RSF use real-time building performance data to study the building's energy use and make adjustments.

Low-Energy Parking Structure

Photo of the parking structure on the NREL campus on a sunny day with a clear blue sky.

NREL completed a new, low-energy parking structure in February 2012. The structure's estimated energy use is 42 kilowatt-hours per parking stall, which is below the contract goal and represents a 90% reduction from an ASHRAE 90.1 2007 baseline. Ongoing monitoring and verification using end use metering will confirm energy use and allow researchers to tune systems to realize long-term energy efficiency.


Rendering of the front of the new state-of-the-art cafeteria on the NREL campus with people walking past.

NREL's state-of-the-art cafeteria includes many energy efficiency strategies, and uses about 25% less energy than a cafeteria built to current commercial code. NREL has applied for LEED Gold certification through the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED program for the building. The cafeteria is located near the Research Support Facility, and provides a centralized location for NREL employees to dine, work, and host events.