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Overview of Some Projects in NIST’s Building Energy Research Program. Mark A Kedzierski National Institute of Standards and Technology Gaithersburg, Maryland. Building Energy Use is Large and Growing. 40% of U.S. Primary Energy Consumption.

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overview of some projects in nist s building energy research program
Overview of Some Projects in NIST’s Building Energy Research Program

Mark A Kedzierski

National Institute of Standards and Technology

Gaithersburg, Maryland

building energy use is large and growing
Building Energy Use is Large and Growing

40% of U.S. Primary Energy Consumption

The combined residential and commercial buildings sectors is the largest consumer of energy in the U.S.

72% of U.S. Electricity

Source: 2007 Buildings Energy Data Book. Tables 1.1.3, 1.2.3, 1.3.3

Buildings Is The Fastest Growing Sector

55% of U.S. Natural Gas


NIST’s Mission

To promote U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing

  • measurement science,
  • standards, and
  • technology

In ways that enhance economic securityandimprove our quality of life

Article I, Section 8: The Congress shall have the power to…fix the standard of weights and measures

Becausebuildings are a controlling portion of our nation’s energy use, building energy research can significantly enhance economic security and improve the quality of life

current building energy measurement science research
Current Building Energy Measurement Science Research
  • Photovoltaic Measurements and Models
  • Refrigerant Heat Transfer Enhancement
  • HVAC Simulation Tools/Fault Detection
  • Thermal Insulation Measurements
  • Fuel Cell Performance/CHP Performance Ratings
  • Sensors for Improved Building Monitoring
  • Energy Efficient Ventilation Strategies
  • Energy Efficiency of Appliances
  • Net-Zero House
photovoltaic measurements and models
Photovoltaic Measurements and Models

Objective: Improve current test methods and simulations in order to facilitate the use of PV in buildings

Improvement/Validation of Simulation Models

Technology Comparisons


Photovoltaic Measurements and Models (cont.)

Long pulse solar simulator

Improved Measurement Techniques

Solar Tracker

Advanced Building Energy Technologies

nanofluids heat transfer measurements
Nanofluids Heat Transfer Measurements

Technical challenge: Nanolubricants offer the opportunity for cost-neutral

performance improvement. The lack of refrigerant/nanolubricant boiling heat

transfer measurements makes it very difficult to understand the fundamental

mechanisms that govern the nanoparticle/bubble interaction.

Research tools and methods:

Pool boiling test apparatus – pool boiling heat transfer

Stabinger viscometer – nanolubricant viscosity

Dynamic light scattering apparatus – nanoparticle size

Findings: Al2O3 nanolubricants can significantly enhance refrigerant pool boiling (on average, between 50 % and 150 %). The enhancement depends on the nanoparticle material, size, volume fraction, dispersion quality.

Good dispersion quality is essential.

simulation tools for hvac equipment
Simulation Tools for HVAC Equipment

NIST develops software tools that facilitate designing optimized equipment.


Increased energy efficiency

Lower cost products

Faster time to market

REFLEAK predicts a composition shift of zeotropic refrigerant mixtures due to sequential leaking and recharging. Composition shifting typically results in degradation of efficiency.

CYCLE_D evaluates refrigerant COP in the basic and advanced vapor-compression cycles.

Simulation of an entire air-conditioning system to estimate the effect of design changes upon efficiency.

Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) is used to characterize the air flow distribution through finned tube heat exchangers.

automated fault detection and diagnostics for residential heat pumps
Automated Fault Detection and Diagnostics for Residential Heat Pumps

NIST is developing Fault Detection and Diagnostic methodologies for residential heat pump systems that will ensure a quality installation and sustained efficiency throughout the equipment’s life span.


Quality initial installations

Greater thermal comfort

Reduced refrigerant emissions

Increased energy efficiency

Reduced life-cycle operating costs

System analysis and fault classifier

Residential split-system heat pump

hvac fault detection and diagnostics
HVAC Fault Detection and Diagnostics

NIST has pioneered the development of embedded measurement and analysis techniques to detect faults in HVAC equipment and controls

  • APAR – Air Handler Performance Assessment Rules
  • VPACC – VAV box Performance Assessment Control Charts
  • Unique laboratory facilities to emulate building systems
  • Collaboration with control system manufacturers to test results in commercial products

NIST Virtual Cybernetic Building Testbed Facility – Used to conduct research in automated fault detection and other aspects of integrated building control systems

thermal insulation measurements
Thermal Insulation Measurements
  • Since 1912, NIST has provided thermal resistance measurements to the thermal insulation industry.
    • 1016-mm Guarded Hot Plate (GHP) Apparatus
    • 500 mm GHP designed to test from 90 K to 900 K
    • Vacuum Insulation Panels tested in calorimeter
    • NIST Standard Reference Database 81 (http://srdata.nist.gov/insulation/)
500 mm currently under evaluation

Developed for industrial thermal insulation user community

Design range:

90 K to 900 K

10-4 torr to 800 torr

Collaboration with ASTM C16.30 Reference Materials Task Group underway to develop next the generation of high-temperature thermal insulation reference materials

Thermal Insulation Measurements (cont.)

NIST's High-Temperature Guarded-Hot-Plate Apparatus

sensors for improved building monitoring
Sensors for Improved Building Monitoring

NIST is exploring novel sensor technology that could be used as part of monitoring systems to determine energy consumption in buildings:

  • Non-invasive techniques to evaluate integrity of thermal envelopes
  • Wireless sensors
  • Energy monitoring systems
energy efficient ventilation strategies
Energy Efficient Ventilation Strategies

NIST has been developing simulation methods, design guidance and tools, technology assessments of strategies, and standards to provide adequate ventilation in an energy efficient manner.

Carbon dioxide based demand controlled ventilation

Dedicated outdoor air systems

Displacement ventilation

Natural and hybrid ventilation

fuel cell cogeneration performance ratings
Fuel Cell/Cogeneration Performance Ratings
  • NIST is developing rating methodologies to help consumers gauge the performance of fuel cell systems and other combined heat and power (CHP) technologies for building applications.
    • Residential Fuel Cell Units
    • Internal Combustion CHP
    • Stirling Engine CHP

Residential Appliance Program

Develops standardized test procedures for common household appliances such as dishwashers, water heaters, refrigerators, mini-split AC, and pool heaters

Assists in finding data for the Federal Trade Commission’s Energy Guide appliance rating labels

Provides EPA and DOE with information for the Energy Star classification


Net-Zero House

Unique Features

  • Advanced framing
  • Fenestration units readily replaced
  • High-performance building envelope
  • Reconfigurable photovoltaic array (1.6 to 9.7 kW)
  • Variable collector size and storage tank capacity solar hot water system
  • Smart Grid Ready
  • Use of low emitting materials for improved indoor air quality
  • Multiple zoning capabilities (floor, register, perimeter versus central)
  • Small duct, high velocity air distribution system
  • Dedicated ductwork for humidification/dehumidiification heat recovery systems
  • Air-to-air central heat pump system
  • Multi-split heat pump system
  • Earth Coupled Heat Pump system with three distinct earth coupled fields

Objective: Demonstrate Net-Zero Energy for a typical home and generate “real world” field data to validate/improve models

To be built on the NIST campus

project contacts
Project Contacts
  • Photovoltaic Measurements and Models: brian.dougherty@nist.gov
  • Refrigerant Heat Transfer Enhancement: mark.kedzierski@nist.gov
  • HVAC Simulation Tools/Fault Detection: vance.payne@nist.gov
  • Thermal Insulation Measurements: robert.zarr@nist.gov
  • Fuel Cell Performance/CHP Perf. Ratings: mark.davis@nist.gov
  • Sensors for Improved Building Monitoring: william.healy@nist.gov
  • Energy Efficient Ventilation Strategies: andrew.persily@nist.gov
  • Energy Efficiency of Appliances: francisco.castro-roman@nist.gov
  • Net-Zero House: hunter.fanney@nist.gov