LBNL Launches Building Energy Performance Project at FLEXLAB

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's Environmental Energy Technologies Division recently launched a building energy performance research project at its new FLEXLAB Testing Facility in Berkley, California.

FLEXLAB™, the Facility for Low Energy experiments in Buildings, run by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's Environmental Energy Technologies Division (EETD), has partnered with construction firm Webcor to test building energy performance. The testing will allow Webcor's engineers to predict and improve the energy performance for a new building constructed for biotech company, Genentech, a member of the Roche Group. A building mockup for Genentech will be studied at different building orientations, specific to the actual construction site.

The research will take place in FLEXLAB's rotating testbed, a unit that rotates 270 degrees to allow the study of building energy use and environmental parameters change in a variety of orientations relative to the sun. FLEXLAB's newly completed outdoor facility consists of four testbeds, consisting of two cells each, that can be outfitted in almost any combination of building envelope materials, windows and shade structures, lights, heating and cooling equipment, and controls to test new technology in real conditions. Two other testbeds, one for lighting and controls testing, and one for collaborative building design have opened in an existing building at Berkeley Lab.

Berkeley Lab and Webcor will build a section of the building in the rotating testbed, collect data, and use these measurements to develop an accurate energy simulation model of the building. This practice allows the design team to better understand and predict the actual performance of the building, both for energy and comfort. The lab is the only facility in the U.S. that provides side-by-side, outdoor testing of fully integrated building systems (envelope, lighting, HVAC) in a fully reconfigurable space.