In the past, buildings and appliances have been constructed to last. Now, they also must be made more efficient to save energy and money. Energy efficiency also has important environmental benefits. Use of less fuel reduces emissions of pollutants that threaten the health of people, animals, plants, and ecosystems. Also, it can delay potentially undesirable changes to the global climate that might occur if atmospheric carbon dioxide emissions from fossil-fuel combustion increase enough to raise the earth's surface temperature significantly. About 50 Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers and numerous industrial researchers have been working together on improving U.S. building energy efficiency at the Buildings Technology Center (BTC), national user facility in ORNL's Energy Division that is supported by DOE's Office of Building Technologies.
BTC is devoted to building envelope research, development of heating and cooling technology, and existing buildings research. Here are some of its achievements.
In existing buildings studies, the researchers develop and field-test energy diagnostic procedures for residential and commercial buildings. They have discovered ways in which to improve dramatically the energy evaluation and performance of the building structure, its heating and cooling equipment, and its thermal distribution system. As a result, they have provided important advanced technologies for major initiatives like the Weatherization Assistance Program, the Affordable Homes Partnership of the departments of Energy and Housing and Urban Development, Rebuild America, and Energy Efficiency in Military Family Housing.
The following articles are devoted to special BTC topics: refurbishment of old roofs, energy audit software, energy losses from ducts in homes, energy use in commercial buildings, and refrigeration and heat pump research.
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