PNNL Buildings Program

PNNL Buildings Program

Buildings account for about 40 percent of our nation's energy use. That's 72 percent of U.S. electricity and 55 percent of natural gas, resulting in 39 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions and a range of other negative environmental impacts. The buildings sciences team at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) is committed to dramatically improving the energy efficiency of buildings and reducing their environmental footprint. With three decades of experience in the buildings energy field and a multi-disciplinary staff of scientists, engineers, economists and market experts, PNNL is a leader in all stages of buildings-related research, technology development and deployment. The PNNL buildings portfolio includes:

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Science Foundation: Materials science research supporting advancements in buildings technologies and systems.

Some of the key challenges in improving building energy efficiency involve advances in materials science. PNNL's applied science research serves as the foundation for breakthroughs in lighting, distributed energy production and other important building systems.

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Energy Efficiency and Demand Response: Development of tools, approaches and technologies for improving the efficiency of building operation and maintenance.

Poor operation and maintenance (O&M) of buildings can result in 10 to 30 percent excess energy use. PNNL works with building owners and operators to develop and implement strategies for retrofitting building equipment and improving O&M practices. PNNL also supports implementation of peak demand reduction strategies and improved reliability of the electric grid.

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High-Performance Sustainable Design: Technical assistance to design, build and evaluate high-performance, sustainable buildings.

Sustainable design integrates environmental, societal and economic goals into the design, construction and operation of a building. PNNL staff use a range of tools and models to support the design of energy-efficient, sustainable buildings.

Codes and Standards: Support for improved building energy codes and equipment standards

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Improved building energy codes and equipment standards are proven mechanisms for increasing energy efficiency in buildings. Under PNNL's Building Energy Codes Program (BECP), supported by DOE, PNNL staff work collaboratively with the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, the International Code Council, the states and other stakeholders to improve building energy codes. PNNL also plays a key role in helping DOE develop and update appliance and equipment standards, as well as equipment test procedures.

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Overcoming Market Barriers: Design and implementation of market transformation programs aimed at bridging the gap between product development and full-scale market adoption

PNNL's technology and market experts interact extensively with stakeholders — including building owners, technology purchasing agents, equipment manufacturers, utilities, energy-efficiency organizations, and government agencies — to develop collaborative projects that foster the introduction and deployment of advanced technologies.

Analysis and Planning: Analysis of building energy trends and economics as well as energy-efficiency program design, planning and deployment.

PNNL's staff of engineers, economists and business analysts work together to perform technology market assessments, economic impact analyses, and a wide range of analyses on building energy topics. Researchers analyze building trends, make projections of future building energy consumption, assess the costs and benefits of new technologies, develop buildings-related data sets, and build tools to support analysis of building issues.

1 Source: Buildings Energy Data Book Sept. 2006. U.S. Dept. of Energy; values based on primary energy use.

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Contact: Kim Fowler
Webmaster: Val Hamilton
Review: August 2013