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Our Research and Capabilities

Our research drives energy and water efficiency, occupant productivity, and resilient operation of buildings and connected systems. As part of the Department of Energy's national laboratory system, we focus on solving problems that provide economic, environmental, security, and societal benefits to the nation.

Building Energy Simulation

We create sophisticated building energy simulations that deliver regional and national energy savings through full-scale adoption of advanced building technologies and designs. As the primary research organization supporting the DOE Building Energy Codes Program, our simulations provide the basis for recommendations to enhance building energy codes and benefit the underlying evaluation methods for developing and implementing appliance standards and test procedures. Our primary research and analysis areas include:

  • Large-scale Building Parametric Analysis: We apply state-of-the-art energy simulation software and statistical and analytical tools to analyze building energy efficiency and cost effectiveness at a large scale to address technical regional and national challenges.
  • Prototype Building Model Development: We combine real-world building performance with in-depth understanding of HVAC, building enclosures, and lighting technologies to develop prototype building models. These models simulate energy use and other building performance characteristics to assess impacts of advanced building designs and technologies.
  • Equipment and End-use Load Modeling: We develop equipment and end-use load models to determine energy, water, and emissions impacts from advanced equipment technologies introduced to a region or nation. These impacts are monetized to determine the technologies' cost effectiveness for the consumer, region, and nation.
  • Building Software Tools: Our software tools assist in building performance evaluation and code compliance.
    • REScheck and COMcheck enable the buildings industry to demonstrate code compliance in the residential and commercial sectors
    • Building Energy Asset Score is a national standardized tool for assessing the physical and structural energy efficiency of commercial and multifamily residential buildings.
    • Facility Energy Decision System is a user-friendly building energy-efficiency software tool that quickly and objectively identifies energy-efficiency improvements that maximize life-cycle savings in individual or groups of buildings on a campus.
    • Home Energy Score provides home owners, buyers, and renters directly comparable and credible information about a home's energy use. Like a miles-per-gallon rating for a car, the Home Energy Score is based on a standard assessment of energy-related assets to easily compare energy use across the housing market.

For more information on working with PNNL on building energy simulation, contact .

Building Performance Evaluation

For our building performance evaluation team, our "laboratory" is often on rooftops or inside the mechanical room of an operating building. We develop advanced technologies and methods to evaluate building systems and their efficiency at the building level and test and validate the effectiveness of emerging technologies. Our primary capabilities include:

  • Comprehensive Facility Evaluations: We partner with federal agencies and industry to improve their strategy to increase building performance. We develop targeted facility evaluation approaches to identify energy, water, and waste reduction opportunities and establish cost and resource efficiency impacts. These range from robust onsite assessments to next-generation audit methods using remote data analytic techniques.
  • Building Evaluation Tools: We create innovative tools, such as the Facility Energy Decision Support tool, to help facility owners and operators evaluate the costs and benefits of projects that improve building performance.
  • Technology Validation: We investigate how equipment and systems perform in real-world situations and share findings with equipment developers, evaluators, site owners, and other stakeholders to inform design, deployment, and operations. We conduct field demonstrations in operating buildings and use psychometric test chambers on our campus to evaluate building equipment performance under different environmental conditions.

For more information on working with PNNL on building performance evaluation, contact .

Building Performance Optimization

Our building performance optimization team integrates control theory, data analytics, and control systems to diagnose and optimize HVAC control system performance. Our primary capabilities include:

  • Re-tuning™: Our methodology for re-tuning to detect energy savings opportunities and implement improvements in building automation systems have been widely adopted across federal, state, and commercial sectors. We continue to evolve this dynamic re-tuning method and regularly work with agencies to apply and train onsite personnel in use of our methods to improve both operations and maintenance while measuring and verifying savings. More information is available on the Building Re-tuning™ website.
  • Building Systems Integration: We evaluate opportunities for seamless integration of HVAC equipment, water systems, miscellaneous electrical loads, lighting, and other controls systems and identify enterprise solutions to tackle energy and water waste in buildings and campuses. Our unbiased technical assistance helps federal agencies and industry partners to integrate diverse operating systems and control technologies into seamless platforms, and identify cyber security risks and mitigation strategies.
  • Predictive Fault Detection and Diagnostics: We develop, test and demonstrate methods for automated predictive fault detection and diagnostics (AFDD) that satisfy mission requirements and resource constraints for timely and proactive operation and maintenance. Using predictive analytics on an open-source database, we develop related tools, such as the Decision Support for Operations and Maintenance software, to enable operators to apply AFDD for corrective action.

For more information on working with PNNL on building performance optimization, contact .

Site Energy and Water Resilience

Our energy systems experts integrate technology, policy, and integrate innovation to establish best practices for energy and water resilience. We develop methods to help federal agencies assess their resilience to energy and water disruptions at the site or campus level, identify risks, strengthen their resilience posture, and monitor progress over time. We work with agencies to develop strategic energy and water plans that help protect energy and water infrastructure and assure that critical assets maintain access to energy and water resources. Our primary capabilities include:

  • Aligning to mission goals and developing energy and water resilience policy
  • Evaluating site energy and water resilience posture
  • Assessing vulnerabilities and risks to operations from utility interruptions
  • Assessing demand and requirements through energy load profiling
  • Assessing and prioritizing technology-based solutions that strengthen building- and installation-level resilience (e.g., microgrid design and integration of renewable energy and storage, site-wide control systems, and alternative water system design and integration)
  • Determining acquisition requirements and financing strategies
  • Creating roadmaps and plans outlining pathways to achieve resilience objectives

For more information on working with PNNL onsite energy and water resilience planning, contact .

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