Plug and process loads (PPLs) in commercial buildings account for almost 5% of U.S. primary energy consumption. Minimizing these loads is a primary challenge in the design and operation of an energy-efficient building. PPLs are not related to general lighting, heating, ventilation, cooling, and water heating, and typically do not provide comfort to the occupants. They use an increasingly large fraction of the building energy use pie because the number and variety of electrical devices have increased along with building system efficiency. Reducing PPLs is difficult because energy efficiency opportunities and the equipment needed to address PPL energy use in office spaces are poorly understood.
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This publication details the design, implementation strategies, and continuous performance monitoring of NREL's Research Support Facility data center.
This case study details the design and operations of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Research Support Facility data center and its contributions to energy efficiency.
Plug and process loads in commercial buildings account for 5% of U.S. primary energy consumption. Minimizing these loads is a primary challenge in the design and operation of an energy-efficient building.
Over the course of 5 years, NREL worked with commercial building owners and their design teams in the DOE Commercial Building Partnerships (CBP) to cut energy consumption by 50% in new construction (versus code) and by 30% in existing building pilot projects (versus code or pre-retrofit operational energy use depending on the preference of the Partner) using strategies that could be replicated across their building portfolios. A number of different building types were addressed, including supermarket, retail merchandise, combination big box (general merchandise and food sales), high rise office space, and warehouse. The projects began in pre-design and included a year of measurement data to evaluate performance against design expectations. Focused attention was required throughout the entire process to achieve a design with the potential to hit the energy performance target and to operate the resulting building to reach this potential. This paper will report quantitative results and cover both the technical and the human sides of CBP, including the elements that were required to succeed and where stumbling blocks were encountered. It will also address the impact of energy performance goals and intensive energy modeling on the design process innovations and best practices.
This roadmap presents a high-level approach to net zero energy building (NZEB) planning, design, construction, and operations, based on NREL’s firsthand experience procuring NZEBs, and based on NREL and other industry research on NZEB feasibility.
Article in the Whole Building Design Guide about the uses and features of metal roofs that meet "cool roof" standards.
This paper documents the methodology developed to identify and reduce plug and process loads (PPLs) as part of NREL's Research Support Facility's (RSF) low energy design process. PPLs, including elevators, kitchen equipment in breakrooms, and office equipment in NREL’s previously occupied office spaces were examined to determine a baseline. This, along with research into the most energy-efficient products and practices, enabled the formulation of a reduction strategy that should yield a 47% reduction in PPLs. The building owner and the design team played equally important roles in developing and implementing opportunities to reduce PPLs. Based on the work done in the RSF, a generalized multistep process has been developed for application to other buildings.