Computing Advances Enable More-Efficient Buildings

Computers, apps, and visualization tools open up new possibilities to improve the energy performance of buildings.

Continuum, March 21, 2014

Computers are becoming ubiquitous devices in the United States: along with countless desktop and laptop computers Americans use at home and at work, more than half of the U.S. population now owns a smart phone, which is essentially a pocket-sized computer. These devices, in turn, open up a world of new possibilities. For instance, the ability for smart phones to use global positioning systems (GPS) to determine their location creates new opportunities for finding a nearby service and determining how to get there.

Computers are also unlocking new powerful possibilities to save energy in buildings, and NREL is at the vanguard of efforts to use design and simulation software—along with tablet computers, apps, massive data storage, and visualization tools—to improve the energy performance of buildings at every stage in their life cycle. As noted by Larry Brackney, NREL’s section supervisor for commercial building controls and analysis tools, many decisions go into every stage of building design and operation, and NREL’s goal is to help building professionals understand the energy implications of these decisions.

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