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Building Technologies - Home

Reducing the energy consumption of the nation's buildings and resulting carbon emissions is essential to achieving a sustainable clean energy future. To address the enormous challenge, Oak Ridge National Laboratory is focused on developing new building technologies enabling grid-interactive efficient buildings that provide beneficial effects to energy security and affordability, resilience, environment, and U.S. economy.

There are over 120 million buildings in the nation that account for 39% of U.S. carbon emissions and consume approximately 40% of the nation's total primary energy, 73% of electricity, and 55% of natural gas (34% of natural gas excluding gas used to generate electricity consumed in buildings).  The DOE’s Building Technologies Office’s long-term goal is to reduce this energy consumption of U.S. buildings by 50% and ORNL is contributing to the goal through delivering scientific discoveries and technical breakthroughs to accelerate affordable building energy efficiency solutions from materials, components, and systems to whole building and community integration.

ORNL’s building technologies R&D efforts include the development of current and next-generation technologies encompassing building equipment, passive and dynamic envelopes, advanced energy storage, building energy modeling, sensors, transactive controls and improved energy management and market transformation in all these areas.

Building Envelopes and Manufacturing

Exploring new and emerging materials, components, systems and the fundamental science of heat, air, and moisture transfer for walls, attics, foundations, sheathings, membranes and coatings. Researchers utilize multi-disciplinary expertise to explore new ways to utilize advanced manufacturing technologies for building envelope systems.

Energy Storage

Exploring new ways to meet the electricity demand of buildings through innovative advanced energy storage approaches. Research includes exploring technologies that include the use 
of integrating advanced energy storage in equipment and envelope systems, flexible building loads, dynamic facades, and thermal energy storage materials. 

Building Systems Integration

Testing new components, equipment and systems in realistic environments before market introduction. Research areas include a vacant research house with simulated occupancy, light commercial flexible building research platforms and computer modeling, visualization and analytics. 

Energy Efficient Equipment

Helping industry launch some of the most energy-efficient building equipment technologies on the market focusing on heat pumps, heating ventilation and air conditioning, dehumidifiers, appliances, water heaters, refrigeration systems, and advanced energy storage systems. 

Buildings-to-Grid

Pursuing advanced wireless sensor technologies, building energy modeling, communications and controls, and energy optimized solutions for neighborhoods of the future. Researchers work with transactive controls to improve energy efficiency by developing new building technologies and creating software that leverages data from internet-connected building equipment and systems enabling smart buildings capable of connecting with the power grid in new and increasingly adaptive manners.