Jun 24, 2020

Residential Building Energy Efficiency Field Studies

Russ Landry, PE

This report is the result of the DOE project Low-Rise Multifamily Energy Code Study.


Over the last several years, state, regional, and national code agencies and other parties have trained their eye on energy efficiency codes. Rather than the just ‘checking the box’ for prescriptive requirements, the renewed focus concerns the actual energy impacts of these codes on a whole- building basis. Further, if the effect of non-compliance can be estimated accurately, the overall impact of the code on expected new building performance can be placed in context of all new buildings (commercial, multifamily residential, and single-family residential), which is of primary interest to industry education and training programs, as well as to states seeking to validate the impacts of their building energy codes. Another potential audience/client for such studies are electricity and natural gas utilities or utility consortia since they have historically been interested in (and have underwritten) studies on single family building characteristics to inform energy efficiency programs and incentives.

The subject of this study is new construction, low-rise (one-to-three story above grade), apartment buildings (flats) containing five or more living units, designed for occupants who are primarily permanent in nature.7 Almost 100 buildings, permitted under state energy codes enacted between 2011 to 2015, were evaluated in four states—Illinois, Minnesota, Oregon, and Washington—that represent a cross-section of climate types. The evaluation included review of building energy systems: thermal shell, mechanical systems, water heating, and lighting. The results provide an increased understanding of the energy performance in this sector.  

This research is funded in part by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Related Links

Energy Code Field Studies: Low-Rise Multifamily Air Leakage Testing (Final Report)
Energy Efficiency Field Studies (U.S. Department of Energy)
DOE Low-Rise Multifamily Code Compliance Study Results (Webinar)