Design and Construct a New Energy-Efficient Commercial Building

Photo of NREL's Research Support Facility under construction, with two workers straddling I-beams.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory's Research Support Facility in an early stage of construction.

Establishing and implementing aggressive energy performance goals during the design and construction of new commercial buildings is important to achieving those goals over the lifetime of the building. Energy efficiency measures can be applied in various stages of the design and construction process, including scoping and design, procurement, codes and standards compliance, construction and commissioning. Energy savings through these measures can be significant and will have lasting positive impacts on the overall energy use of the building. For example, using technologies and concepts such as radiant heating and cooling, precast concrete insulated panels, and an on-site solar energy system, NREL's Research Support Facility (RSF) is 50 percent more efficient than ASHRAE 90.1 2004 Standards.

The U.S. Department of Energy's Building Technologies Office (BTO) develops resources and tools to help owners, project managers, architects, and engineers design and build highly energy efficient commercial buildings. These programs and tools include the Buildings Performance Database, Energy Modeling Software, and Technology Portal, and the Advanced Energy Design Guide which is meant to help achieve significant energy savings without cumbersome computer modeling or detailed analysis.

Key Resources

A Handbook for Planning and Conducting Charrettes for High-Performance Projects
Use the strategies in this National Renewable Energy Laboratory document to assemble the right team and start solving problems early in the design process, saving time and money.

OpenStudio Plug-In for SketchUp
Use this user-friendly software tool to develop building energy models from the beginning of the design process.

Commercial Reference Buildings
Explore energy models that characterize 70% of the commercial buildings in the United States, and use this information as reference points for developing energy performance goals.

NREL's Research Support Facility
Learn more from NREL about how to procure a highly energy-efficient commercial building like the RSF, including the request for proposal NREL issued to solicit proposals from design/build teams.

Design to Achieve ENERGY STAR®
Use this guide to learn about the framework for achieving superior energy efficiency in your building.

For additional resources to help design and construct a new energy efficient building, see the Commercial Buildings Resource Database.