Performance of a Low-Energy Commercial Building Designed Using a Whole-Building Approach

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


The Thermal Test Facility (TTF) at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado, demonstrates that using a whole-building design approach successfully produces an extremely low-energy building. A whole-building approach treats a building as a single unit, not a shell containing many separate systems. By using this approach for the TTF, the team of NREL researches anddesigners produced a building that costs 63% less to operate that a code-compliant basecase building. These savings were achieved by implementing an approach that optimized passive solar technologies and integrated energy-efficient building systems. Passive solar technologies included daylighting, high-efficiency lighting systems, engineered overhangs, direct solar gains for heating, thermalmass building materials, managed glazing, and a good thermal envelope. The energy-efficient HVAC system, designed to work with the building's passive solar technologies, includes ventilation air preheat, ceiling fans, indirect/direct evaporative cooling, and an automatic control system. This paper presents results of tests conducted since the building's completion in 1996 that demonstrate thesuccess of the TTF's design. Modeling building energy performance, calibrating those models, and monitoring building performance will be discussed.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages6
StatePublished - 1998
Event23rd National Passive Solar Conference - Albuquerque, New Mexico
Duration: 14 Jun 199817 Jun 1998


Conference23rd National Passive Solar Conference
CityAlbuquerque, New Mexico

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-550-25568


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