Final Report: Natural Gas Community of the Future

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


Nicor Gas, a subsidiary of Southern Company Gas and its parent company Southern Company, is developing the concept of the Carbon-neutral, Affordable, Resilient, and Equitable Community ("CARE Community") to address the challenges of accessibility and affordability of grid-interactive efficient buildings in historically disadvantaged communities. The CARE Community is a new construction net-zero energy and carbon neutral residential neighborhood consisting of 50 homes with electricity and natural gas services in South Suburban Chicago, built as low-income affordable housing. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is assisting Southern Company to explore how energy efficiency, renewable technologies, and the reliability and resilience of natural gas can be combined and optimized in an islandable energy system as part of a broader effort to understand the role natural gas plays in future communities integrated with renewable energy and improved energy efficiency. The CARE Community will demonstrate how energy efficiency, distributed energy resources (DERs), and advanced controls can be combined with existing natural gas infrastructure to serve historically disadvantaged communities in a cold climate with low energy cost for affordable housing programs and enhanced resilience to withstand extreme weather. Homes will be a part of an islandable energy system, integrating multiple DER technologies such as solar panels, natural gas fuel cells, reciprocating natural gas engines, and battery storage. The CARE Community will provide a replicable template that affordable housing developers and energy companies can adopt throughout the United States. In this report, we present the design and modeling of the community and potential approaches for integrating DERs. We analyze and discuss annual simulations under normal operating conditions and week-long simulations under electric power grid outage conditions.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages50
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Produced by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) under the direction of Southern Company Gas under Work for Others Agreement number TSA-20-16527 and the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Building Technologies Office

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5500-80254


  • decarbonization
  • distributed energy resource
  • energy efficiency
  • natural gas
  • residential building
  • resilience
  • smart community


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