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Residential Capabilities


Photo showing a row of homes in the distance.

The NREL Residential Buildings group is an innovative, multidisciplinary team focused on accelerating the adoption of cost-effective energy efficiency technologies and practices into the U.S. home building and retrofit markets. Our researchers explore energy efficiency options for both new and existing homes, including whole-house performance and the interaction of building components.

We work to identify barriers and provide engineering solutions that support the nation's energy goals across the residential building sector. A primary research objective is the success of the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Building America program, which partners with some of the nation's most forward-thinking building scientists, homebuilders, remodelers, and other stakeholders.

In addition to the core partnership with DOE, our team works with leading manufacturers, utility programs, other federal agencies, universities, and other groups to evaluate and deliver innovative solutions to residential building technical challenges.

Our team creates and delivers unique capabilities,
grounded in science, vetted by the construction industry,
and built on a longstanding collaboration with DOE and market leaders.

We evaluate and compare residential building products, systems, and strategies to understand interactions between components, develop whole-house strategies, and predict performance at various levels of energy savings. This work includes providing unique software solutions and data that are critical in developing new products and systems, designing new construction and home retrofit packages for cost-effective energy efficiency, and establishing performance targets and packages for energy efficiency programs.

Image is a rendering of a two-story residential building with an entrance on the front. To the right of this building is another large building shaded in gray, and to the left is a smaller structure shaded in gray.

BEopt (Building Energy Optimization)

Analyzes building designs and identifies optimal efficiency packages at levels of whole-house energy savings.

This photo shows a man in front of two computer screens that show model of a building.

BESTEST (Building Energy Simulation Test)

Evaluates tools that model the envelope portion of building energy simulation programs.

This photo shows a person in a white hazardous materials suit blowing insulation inside of an attic. He is wearing a headlamp on his head and the beam shines in the general direction of the insulation tube he is holding.

National Residential Efficiency Measures Database

A centralized resource of residential building retrofit measures and associated estimated costs for the U.S. building industry.

This image shows a cover of a report titled "Building America House Simulation Protocols."

House Simulation Protocols

Enables tracking of progress toward multiyear, residential energy efficiency research goals for existing and new construction, using a consistent reference point.

This graphic shows two circles side by side; one orange and the other green. Within each circle is a white image of a house.

BESTEST-EX (Building Energy Simulation Test for Existing Homes

Benchmarks home energy audit software and associated calibration methods.

This photo shows two men monitoring energy data on a computer from a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system.

Building America Data Portal

A collection of residential building characteristics and historical energy use data to improve the accuracy of residential energy analysis tools.

In addition to these capabilities, ResStock helps partners identify home improvements that save the most energy and money.

Partner with us! Contact Dave Roberts.

We know measurement and verification. Our suite of laboratory and real-world testing capabilities are unmatched. From building components and systems to whole buildings, we deliver the accurate data necessary to develop and demonstrate better products, systems, and strategies that improve energy efficiency in homes. This includes working for utilities and manufacturers to conduct laboratory and field testing on novel technologies and systems. Lab testing provides accurate, third party performance maps, while field testing ensures that innovations can reliably deliver whole-house cost and performance benefits that maximize value and minimize risk.

This photo shows two researchers conducting tests on a DeVap prototype.

Lab Testing

Laboratory and testing capabilities that give partners and customers access to state-of-the-art equipment capable of analyzing a wide spectrum of technologies.

This photo shows a man standing in front of a door performing a blower test. The door is covered with fabric and a measuring device.

Field Test Best Practices Resource

Guidance on residential building field testing from start to finish, including planning, selecting equipment, testing, and analyzing results.

This photo shows two men conducting research on a DeVap prototype in a laboratory.

Technology Innovations

Technology and prototyping research that leads to award-winning, energy-saving building technologies.

Partner with us! Contact Dane Christensen.

We manage research programs, combining extensive technical expertise with the ability to evaluate, develop, and coordinate complicated research efforts. This work integrates the full scope of technical capabilities offered by the NREL Residential Buildings Group, and has created strategic and highly collaborative multi-year programs with impactful results.

This photo shows a series of houses against a blue sky. In the blue sky is a logo that says Building America, U.S. Department of Energy.

DOE's Building America Program

An industry-driven research initiative that develops innovative solutions to achieve significant energy and cost savings for homeowners and builders.

This photo shows an aerial view of Premier Gardens Zero Energy Home Community in Sacramento, California.

Utility Support

Help in assessing cost and performance improvements in homes across utilities' territories to reduce energy use and peak loads.

This photo shows two solar water collectors visible on the roof top of a building.

Solar Water Heating

Roadmap that outlines optimal technology pathways to low-cost solar hot water heating systems with broad marketability.

Partner with us! Contact Stacey Rothgeb.

Working With Us

Learn more about NREL's residential building partnership opportunities.

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