Transforming Buildings Research (Text Version)

This video interviews two buildings research leads at NREL about the big-picture relevance of NREL’s research and the impacts it will have.

Buildings research at NREL is applying an integrated, whole-systems perspective to transform buildings into dynamic and efficient-energy assets. 

The video opens with NREL Laboratory Program Manager Roderick Jackson speaking in front of a background of apartment towers, with lights blinking on and off.

I know that every day, every activity that I do in my job, is working toward that future that wouldn't exist if I wasn't here.

Video cuts to aerial view of city skyscrapers. Text appears that reads “Buildings Research, National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

The frame then zooms through a circle into a wide perspective of a coastal community with three rotating wind turbines close to shore.

So, imagine a world where we're maximizing our use of clean energy technologies ...

Footage transitions through blinding solar light into a sidewalk perspective of a city, looking up. Video returns to footage of Jackson speaking, this time in front of a dark background. Full name and title appear on screen: “Roderick Jackson. Buildings Research. National Renewable Energy Laboratory.”

Buildings use 75% of the energy that we create. And so, if we transition on the generation side without acknowledging how buildings play a role, the system will be highly suboptimal.

Footage cuts to panning aerial view of urban city. Voice of NREL Center Director Achilles Karagiozis enters. Footage continues to switch between cities from different perspectives. First  from the ground, looking up. Then from around 25 stories above, looking across.

Cuts to Achilles Karagiozis speaking in front of a dark background. Name and title appear on screen: “Achilles Karagiozis. Buildings Research. National Renewable Energy Laboratory.” Cuts to aerial perspective of urban city, blurred lines and numbers overlay the city, implying connections and data.

Up to now, we've been dealing with buildings that we believe are stagnant; they're not dynamic. We're gonna change all of that because for us to be effective in this new era where energy transformation is happening everywhere, we need to think differently. We need to act differently. We need to execute differently.

Footage cuts to time lapse perspective of city from around 10 stories high. Video cuts to upward perspective of an electric vehicle charging, beneath a modern, tall building. Then quickly cuts back to Karagiozis speaking in front of dark background.

So, buildings now—rather than being seen as something that are just consumers of energy—are most likely going to be entities that provide excess amounts of energy for us. So, they're gonna be energy-producing entities, and they're gonna contribute to the way that we live in a very radically different way than we have today.

Karagiozis’ words appear as text on screen: “contribute to the way that we live in a very radically different way.” Cuts to panning footage of the Energy Systems Integration Facility at NREL. Cuts back to Jackson in front of a dark background. Jackson’s words appear as text on screen: “transcending multiple scales.”

One of the things that make our program or our research approach unique is that we really focus on transcending multiple scales, and those scales start at the materials' scale—how can we do new materials that enable us to achieve this energy future we're looking at?

Cuts to footage of construction crane above city outskirts. Cuts to footage of home, overlaid with digital temperature values and dynamic measurement values, implying advanced management of resources.

But then how do we incorporate those materials into components and systems? But we don't stop there because buildings don't exist on an island. Buildings exist within a community or a city ...

Cuts to wide-scale view of illuminated city at night. 1s and 0s are flying horizontally above city, implying information and computation. Cuts back to Jackson speaking in front of a dark background.

So, how can we have new materials that have impact at the city and community level? Those are some of the things, I would say, that really help make us unique.

Cuts to researcher explaining (muted) a laboratory power device. Cuts to computer screen displaying graphs and tabulated values.

The people here have a passion and expertise unlike any that I've seen before. We have facilities, such as our Energy Systems Integration Facility ...

Cuts to two researchers in conversation, walking among laboratory electrical boxes and pipes. Transitions to same researchers opening one electrical box. Viewer cannot see inside box. Cuts back to Jackson speaking in front of a dark background.

We have other techniques that allow us to look at how do we integrate beyond a single building. How do we integrate multiple building technologies within a single building to achieve an optimized goal?

Cut to panning footage of the ESIF.

So, those facilities, along with the people, and along with our mission that is focused on really advancing the cause, really enable us to be a leader in this space.

Cut to researcher soldering circuit board. Cuts to two researchers reviewing content on a computer screen. Cuts to two researchers standing in front of multiple screens, in conversation. Cuts back to Karagiozis speaking in front of dark background.

We have a very diverse list of partners that we work with. For example, we work with government agencies, utilities, and energy service companies ...

Cuts to person on phone, in front of 8 computer screens. Cuts to animation of line diagram explaining electrical designs. Cuts to footage of building electrical asset.

we work with manufacturers of products and systems, and at the same time, we also focus and work with universities, associations, and the overall design community.

Cuts to two researchers connecting wires to an electrical box, standing in front of various home energy appliances. Cuts to speaker at podium, presenting to audience. Cuts to audience member asking a question. Cuts back to Karagiozis speaking in front of a dark background.

No single industry today can address these types of grid-interactive, energy-efficient building issues that we have in the way that a national lab can handle.

Cuts to panning perspective of the ESIF.

So, working in a national lab, that's what we do. We do things that bring together the best ...

Cuts to footage of electric vehicles outside of the ESIF. Cuts to researcher reviewing testing information on multiple monitors.

the brightest scientists from all of the world, and we're working toward that single mission: to do things that wouldn't happen if we were not here.

Cuts to monitor showing graphical interface for voltage data. Cuts back to Jackson speaking in front of dark background. Cuts to close-up perspective of outdoor solar panel with time-lapse clouds moving through background. 

So, that's why it's critical. By working closely with the industry, we really accelerate the transition from existing technology to the technologies of tomorrow.

Cuts to 3-D visualization of voltage conditions. Cuts to footage of an unfinished high-rise building, panning upward. Text appears over screen: “Buildings Research. National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Learn More.” Video then cuts to black and ends.