Buildings End-Use Energy Efficiency Research - Whole Building and Envelope

In the operation of a building, tradeoffs must be made in order to optimize heating, cooling, and lighting energy use. Heating, cooling, and lighting constitute 57% of the total energy end uses in commercial buildings. Façades (building exterior) and fenestration (windows, doors) have a large influence over these loads. For instance, large windows allow more daylight and reduce lighting energy use, but also allow more heat to enter the space and increase cooling load. Further, in order to optimize building design and demonstrate building code compliance, architects and engineers need computer-based tools for modeling whole-building energy use.

PIER research investigates innovative ways to maximize benefits and minimize energy use. Whole-building and envelope technologies include:

  • Core daylighting and alternative skylight systems.
  • Fenestration and facades.
  • Tools for building energy modeling and design.

See whole building and envelope research projects.

Home Energy Efficient Design (HEED) Tool

An easy-to-use software simulation tool for architects to use when designing or renovating homes was further developed and updated with PIER funding by UCLA architecture professor Murray Milne and CSU Pomona professor Pablo LaRoche. The software, called Home Energy Efficient Design (HEED), allows one to see how much energy, money and carbon can be saved by making various design or remodeling changes to a home. The program allows one to include the actual floor plan, window location, wall and roof construction details, renewable energy components and cool roofs. The program includes the current California Building Energy Code and includes the latest utility rates. There is even a screen for determining each designs Zero Net Energy Rating and Zero Net Carbon Rating as a percentage of the reference Code Compliant building.

Download HEED for free.

Center for the Built Environment

The Center for the Built Environment (CBE), established in 1995 at UC Berkeley, improves the design, operation, and environmental quality of buildings by providing timely, technology-neutral information on building technologies and design techniques. CBE projects investigates how people use space, asks them what they like and don't like about their indoor environment, and links these responses to physical measurements of indoor environmental quality. Further, CBE studies technologies that hold promise for making buildings more environmentally friendly, more productive to work in, and more economical to operate

This feedback is highly valuable for those who manage, operate, and design buildings, and for manufacturing partners who offer products for buildings. The CBE Advisory Board represents the diversity of the building industry, including manufacturers, building owners, facility managers, contractors, architects, engineers, government agencies and professional associations.

Low-Energy Façade Systems

The Low-Energy Façade Systems program at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory was established jointly by CEC PIER and the US Department of Energy to investigate, develop, evaluate, and assist in the market deployment of energy-efficient emerging window and daylighting technologies into the buildings market. The program acts as a catalyst and mediator between the building industry supply and user business transaction by helping component suppliers create and optimize cost-effective, integrated systems that work. This program validates these systems through demonstration efforts to show owners, designers, and specifiers that these emerging technologies reliably meet energy performance expectations. Over 60 industry partners provide strategic guidance on the program and agree on goals, criteria, and pathways needed to attain ambitious net zero energy goals defined by California and the US. Collaborations with individual companies ensure R&D transfer to the marketplace.

The broad vision of the program is to convert windows from their current role as a net energy penalty to a net energy supplier in both new and existing buildings while improving comfort and amenity. Innovative technologies are evaluated using simulations, laboratory studies, field tests both in the Advanced Windows Testbed Facility at LBNL and in field demonstration sites with industry partners. Developing and validating software to both derive and evaluate unique technologies is an integral part of the research. Researchers investigate integrated façade solutions, determining impacts on both HVAC and lighting energy use as well as comfort and indoor environmental quality.

Technologies include:

  • Switchable windows that can be tinted from clear to dark on command
  • Microstructure and macroscopic daylighting systems for windows and skylights
  • Interior and exterior shading systems
  • Intelligent controls for automated window systems.