Renewable Energy Technologies for Designing and Constructing Low-Energy Commercial Buildings

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


The Thermal Test Facility (TTF) at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado, was designed and constructed using a whole-building energy design approach. This approach treats a building as a single unit, not as a shell containing many separate systems. It relies on the use of energy simulation tools for optimization throughout the design process, and requires theinvolvement and commitment of the architect, engineer, and owner. It can produce a building that requires substantially less energy than a building designed and constructed with conventional means. TTF operating costs are 63% less than those of a code-compliant basecase building. These savings were achieved by implementing an approach that optimized passive solar technologies and integratedenergy-efficient building systems. Passive solar technologies include daylighting, high-efficiency lighting systems, engineered overhangs, direct solar materials, managed glazing, and a good thermal envelope. The energy-efficient heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system, designed to work with the building's passive solar technologies, includes ventilation air preheat, ceilingfans, indirect/direct evaporative cooling, and an automatic control system. This paper focuses on the design features of the TTF and the results of tests conducted on the TTF since its completion in 1996. These results demonstrate the success of the whole-building approach.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages11
StatePublished - 1998
EventGreen Building Challenge '98 - Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Duration: 26 Oct 199828 Oct 1998


ConferenceGreen Building Challenge '98
CityVancouver, British Columbia, Canada

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-550-24818


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