Skip to main content

Building Energy Systems

NREL experts develop comprehensive energy assessments, models, and tools to optimize building systems across energy efficiency and renewable energy while also improving occupant comfort, safety, and productivity.

Northeast Denver Housing Center

Northeast Denver Housing Center

NREL Identifies PV for 28 Affordable Housing Units

Boulder County Housing Authority

Boulder County Housing Authority

NREL Recommendations Lead to 153 Net Zero Energy Residences

Expertise and Knowledge

NREL offers technical assistance and project development support by working closely with industry partners to research, develop, and deploy advanced building technologies. Examples include:

Building Energy Audits and Assessments

NREL provides technical assistance, guidelines, checklists, and data collection forms to help businesses, government agencies, tribes, and other organizations incorporate energy-efficient products, operations, and maintenance practices into existing buildings. Learn about NREL's Method for Estimating Potential Energy and Cost Savings for Cooling Existing Data Centers.

Commercial Buildings Research and Development

The NREL Commercial Buildings group helps stakeholders achieve goals surrounding reliable and secure energy operations, mandated energy performance targets, and return on investment by evaluating and deploying real-world solutions. The group participates in Superior Energy Performancecm, a certification program that provides industrial facilities with a roadmap for achieving continual improvement in energy efficiency while maintaining competitiveness.

Policy Analysis and Implementation

Analysis at NREL aims to increase understanding of the current and future interactions and roles of energy policies, markets, resources, technologies, environmental impacts, and infrastructure on building energy systems. Learn more about NREL's energy analysis capabilities.

Residential Buildings Research and Development

The NREL Residential Buildings group serves as the technical lead for the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Building America program, which partners with industry (including many of the top U.S. homebuilders) to bring homebuilding innovations and resources to market. In this role, NREL manages nationwide research activities for Building America, hosts annual meetings to support coordination between the program and industry stakeholders, and conducts analysis and testing of components and whole-house systems for high-performance homes.

Residential Weatherization and Home Energy Upgrades

NREL assists the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in developing and executing its Weatherization Assistance Program, coordinating and mobilizing its network of more than 16,000 weatherization workers across the United States. The program allows low-income families to permanently reduce energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient. Funding improves residential energy efficiency by applying advanced technologies and testing protocols across the housing industry.

Training and Workforce Development

NREL helps transform building energy markets by developing effective training and workforce development programs. These programs vary in size and scope, ranging from professional training sessions to comprehensive professional education and certification programs. Each, however, focuses on developing the skilled workforce needed to deploy emerging technologies and best practices capable of advancing energy efficiency and renewable energy markets.

Building Project Examples

NREL collaborates with public and private entities surrounding building energy system design, deployment, and optimization. Some examples include:

Guidelines for Home Energy Professionals

Through the Guidelines for Home Energy Professionals project, NREL is directing a national workforce development program within DOE’s Weatherization Assistance Program, collaborating with industry to support high-quality home energy upgrade work through standard work specifications, accredited training programs, and voluntary national worker certifications.

Solar Decathlon

NREL provides the organizational and technical support for one of DOE's most successful efforts, the Solar Decathlon. Solar Decathlon removes market barriers by educating students and the public about coupling building efficiency with solar energy, demonstrating solar affordability and comfort, and providing unique design and infrastructure training. Learn more about Solar Decathlon.

Uniform Methods Project

NREL supports DOE in developing uniform methods that serve as a framework for determining energy savings from the most common commercial and residential energy efficiency measures and programs across the United States.

Featured Tools

Test the accuracy of energy audit software and calibration procedures for existing homes.

Evaluate residential building designs and identify the most cost-effective whole-house efficiency packages to achieve zero net energy.

Detailed analysis of today's state-of-the-art building design technologies using the most sophisticated building energy use simulation techniques.

More tools