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Technical Report

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National Renewable Energy Laboratory

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To track progress toward aggressive multi-year, whole-house energy savings goals of 40%–70% and on-site power production of up to 30%, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Residential Buildings Program and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) developed the Building America (BA) Research Benchmark in consultation with the Building America industry teams. The Benchmark is generally consistent with mid-1990s standard practice, as reflected in the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Technical Guidelines (RESNET 2002), with additional definitions that allow the analyst to evaluate all residential end uses, an extension of the traditional HERS rating approach that focuses on space conditioning and hot water. Unlike the reference homes used for HERS, ENERGY STAR, and most energy codes, the Benchmark represents typical construction at a fixed point in time so it can be used as the basis for Building America’s multi-year energy savings goals without the complication of chasing a “moving target.” As time passes, we expect energy codes to become more and more energy efficient compared to the Benchmark as better construction practices and more efficient equipment become commonplace in the market. A series of user profiles, intended to represent the behavior of a “standard” set of occupants, was created for use in conjunction with the Benchmark. The Benchmark is intended for use with detached and attached single-family housing, as well as multi-family housing.

Energy analysis of a Prototype compared to the Benchmark can be performed with any software tool that complies with the BA Performance Analysis Procedures (Hendron et al. 2004). In addition, NREL will provide examples of technology packages that can be used to achieve different source energy savings based on BEopt analysis results (Anderson and Roberts 2008). These technology packages, or alternative packages that provide equivalent source energy savings, may be used to demonstrate minimum whole house source energy savings for BA Gate reviews.


Dwellings design and construction energy consumption; Energy conservation


Architecture | Construction Engineering | Environmental Design | Sustainability




NREL Report No. TP-550-47246