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ORNL MAXLAB occupied, nearing fully equipped status


MAXLAB construction was completed in September 2012.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) researchers have settled into new offices and laboratories at the MAXLAB—or Maximum Building Energy Efficiency Research Laboratory. Located on Bethel Valley Road, MAXLAB construction was completed at the end of September.

Sixteen staff members of the Building Technologies Research and Integration Center are based in the complex, including BTRIC director Patrick Hughes and members of the Building Envelope Research, Building Equipment Research, and Whole-Building and Community Integration groups.

MAXLAB is a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) facility funded with $16 million of a $20.2 million competitive award from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). It will be used for research to advance the energy efficiency and durability of building envelopes (e.g., walls), equipment, and appliances. The 17,970 ft2 building contains two research spaces: a high-bay area for building and characterizing large-scale wall assemblies and a low-bay area housing a heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning laboratory. Equipment installation began in early January. Both suites should be ready for use in April.

The high-bay area will house an apparatus for simultaneously testing air and moisture penetration of large-scale wall assemblies under any weather conditions encountered in the United States. Industry partners will participate in building wall assemblies that will be tested under controlled conditions to contribute to the building science behind future updates of building envelope codes and standards.

The HVAC environmental chambers in the low-bay area include an outdoor and four individually controlled indoor chambers. The chambers will initially support collaborative efforts with industry to develop various types of heat pumps, rooftop HVAC units, window air-conditioners, and laundry equipment coupled with heat pumps.

Companion facilities funded by the same ARRA project and called the light commercial building flexible research platforms (FRPs) are also near completion. Located across the street from MAXLAB, the single-story and two-story FRPs are being outfitted with their first test buildings. Prototype building energy efficiency technologies developed by ORNL and its industry partners will be tested there before being introduced commercially.

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