ORNL research in building technologies is performed by the Building Technologies Research and Integration Center (BTRIC) and supports the DOE goals of achieving zero energy homes by 2020 and zero energy buildings of all kinds by 2025. Zero energy implies buildings that annually produce as much energy as they consume. The goals are achieved if components and integration techniques are commercially available at affordable prices by the target years so zero energy is feasible for the private sector to implement.
Reducing the energy/carbon footprint of the nation's buildings sector is essential for tackling climate change and will be an enormous challenge. Buildings account for 39% of U.S. carbon emissions and the consumption of 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 importance of buildings is amplified because renewable energy applications such as photovoltaic electricity generation, day lighting, solar water heating, and geothermal (ground-source) space conditioning and water heating are most economical when using buildings as their deployment platforms.
ORNL's work in pursuit of energy and environmental sustainability of the built environment is broad-based, addressing residential and commercial, and new and existing buildings. Focus areas are aligned with the interests of our DOE Building Technologies Program (BT) sponsor and other current sponsors, and include:
energy efficient, affordable, moisture tolerant, and durable building envelopes;
- BT sponsored: Building Envelope
energy efficient, affordable, energy services equipment that is optimally integrated (for heat recycling, use of renewable energy (solar and geothermal), and demand-response);
whole-building integration for affordable energy and environmental sustainability;
- BT sponsored: Whole-Building & Community Integration
energy management and improvements to the existing building stock.
- Related site: Residential, Commercial & Industrial Energy Efficiency
- Related site: Weatherization
Many of ORNL's buildings-related laboratory facilities are accessible to the private sector through the Building Technologies Research and Integration Center (BTRIC), a designated National User Facility.