NREL.GOV — The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has been improving the energy efficiency of buildings, including residences, for more than 43 years. In fact, NREL’s Buildings Program was one of the laboratory’s first centers of research. In 2021 that work is no less important, because housing consumes 21 percent of the nation’s energy.

But a new concern has emerged: The nation has a critical shortage of affordable housing. Rather than treating those as two separate challenges, NREL has a strategy to tackle both.

“There is a real convergence of energy efficiency in buildings and affordable housing,” said NREL senior engineer Shanti Pless. And Pless explained, that convergence is not so new to NREL. “We’ve long looked at what it costs to build housing and especially what it costs to build a net-zero-energy building. Now we are applying that research to make housing more affordable and more efficient.”