Creating Low-Energy Commercial Buildings Through Effective Design and Evaluation

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


This paper presents two case studies of passive solar commercial buildings that were designed and constructed at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado, as part of the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) and NREL's Exemplary Buildings Program. These buildings use much less energy than equivalent code-compliant buildings and have remained within government-mandatedbudget constraints. Performance predictions generated as an integral part of the design process, as welll as actual measured energy and daylighting performance are presented. Also presented are lessons learned during the design, construction and initial occupancy of the buildings. Two general practices were tantamount -- close communication between all team members from predesign throughcommissioning and occupancy, and a commitment to use of solar technologies and energy efficiency by all buildings design team members. It was found that, even when a team is committed to a low-energy goal, the actual energy savings can disappoint if there is a lack of communication among team members. Several more specific practices were also key--a whole-building energy design approach usingcomputerized energy simulation tools during the entire design process, and frequent inspections during construction. Additionally, the building team, usually consisting of an architect, engineer, builder, and owner, should also include an energy consultant. Furthermore, the energy design process must begin in predesign as soon as location, size, and building type are known in order to determinethe main energy issues. The team should continually work together to miminize the building's energy use.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages179
StatePublished - 1999
Event1998 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings Proceedings -
Duration: 1 Jan 19981 Jan 1998


Conference1998 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings Proceedings

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-550-24346


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