Bruno Grunau

Bruno Grunau

Regional Director ARCEE-Sustainable Buildings


Bruno Grunau is regional director of NREL's Alaska Campus in Fairbanks. Prior to joining NREL in 2020, NREL's Alaska Campus in Fairbanks had a 20-year history as an independent nonprofit developing and advancing sustainable, affordable, durable housing for Alaskans and circumpolar people. Bruno oversees NREL's Alaska Campus work in building science, energy policy, and demonstration of healthy, affordable, durable shelter and infrastructure in extreme environments.

Bruno has a strong research and engineering background that includes building envelope performance, ventilation and indoor air quality, and building foundations on permafrost. He has worked with the military to develop tools for evaluating and building on permafrost, developed innovative mechanical systems to improve air quality in high-efficiency homes, and spearheaded research on the hygrothermal performance of super-insulated wall systems. In 2015, he and his wife built a zero-energy-ready home in Fairbanks that combines solar, biomass, thermal storage, and an air source heat pump to eliminate fossil fuels for heating in the subarctic climate.  

NREL's Alaska Campus has an equity-centered approach that engages communities at every stage of housing and energy projects, ensuring they incorporate not just technology but also culture, health, and local economies. Bruno's team has worked with dozens of remote and Indigenous villages across Alaska to design buildings that reflect traditional knowledge and 21st-century technology. Bruno is helping lead NREL's efforts to incorporate environmental justice into its entire research, development, demonstration, and deployment process to ensure an equitable energy transition for all.

Research Interests

Extreme climate building science

Solar design and thermal storage

Building interactions on permafrost

Heating and ventilation

Building envelopes

Environmental, energy, and climate justice 


Professional Engineering 

B.S., Engineering, Virginia Tech

Professional Experience

President, Cold Climate Housing Research Center (2019–2020)

Chief Engineer, Remote Power Inc. (2008–2010)

Mechanical Engineer, Shock and Vibration Test Laboratory contracted by U.S. Navy (2001–2008)

Featured Work

The Effect of Thermal Mass on Annual Heat Load and Thermal Comfort in Cold Climate Construction, Journal of Cold Regions Engineering (2015)

A High-Latitude Modular Autonomous Power, Control, and Communication System for Application to High-Frequency Surface Current Mapping Radars, Marine Technology Society Journal (2011)

Panelist and Presenter at UNICEF's "International Expert Consultation on Sanitation in Cold Climates" in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia (2017)

Awards and Honors

Testified at U.S. Senate Energy Committee Hearing as expert on energy efficiency and cold climate design and building (2017 and 2019)