Buildings Technology

Reducing the energy consumption of the nation’s buildings is essential for achieving a sustainable clean energy future and will be an enormous challenge. Buildings account for 40% of the nation’s carbon emissions and the consumption of 41% of our primary energy, 74% of our electricity, and 34% of our natural gas (56% counting natural gas used to generate electricity consumed in buildings). The importance of buildings is amplified because some decentralized renewable energy technologies are most economical when using buildings as their deployment platforms—for example, generating power with building-integrated photovoltaic cells, lighting and heating water with direct sunlight, and space conditioning and water heating with energy from the ground.


The Building Technologies Research and Integration Center (BTRIC), in the Energy and Transportation Science Division ORNL, focuses on research and development of new building technologies, whole-building and community integration, improved energy management in homes and buildings during their operational phase, and market transformations from concept to commercialization in all of these areas.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) programs supported by BTRIC are primarily within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and include the

  • Building Technologies Office,

  • Federal Energy Management Program,

  • Weatherization and Intergovernmental Programs Office, and

  • Sustainability Performance Office.

BTRIC also supports other DOE-EERE offices, other DOE programs, other federal agencies, state agencies, and the private sector through Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs) and DOE’s Work for Others (WFO) program and as a DOE-designated National User Facility.

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Research Highlights

Refrigerants – Cooling with propane

Cooling homes and small office spaces could become less costly and more efficient with new early stage technology developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Researchers designed a window air conditioning unit that uses propane as the refrigerant, cooling the air with 17 percent higher...

ORNL, Molex to develop and provide market access to low-cost wireless sensors

Efforts to bring ORNL’s wireless sensor platform to market are on target and proceeding as planned. In April 2015, ORNL formed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with Molex, a premier international electronics manufacturer, to make the low-cost wireless sensors...

Collaboration advances clothes dryer from idea to invention

The development of the ultrasonic clothes dryer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory is a prime example of collaboration among various divisions at the lab—drawing upon the expertise necessary no matter where a scientist sits to transform a well-researched idea into a great invention....