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PNNL Lab Homes

About Lab Homes

Side view of home

The Lab Homes, located on the PNNL campus in Richland, Washington (EIA Climate Zone 2) were built in 2011 to serve as a laboratory where new building technologies can be tested in a closely monitored environment that replicates how normal homes operate. Unlike traditional laboratory tests, the Lab Homes allow researchers to better observe how new building technologies would work if they were in a typical, occupied home and operating along with other systems in the home.

Using procedures developed by the U.S. Department of Energy's Building American program, the homes simulate occupancy by automatically turning on lights and appliances (such as the stove, clothes dryer, etc.) and adjusting the temperature just as real home owners normally would throughout the course of a day.

The Lab Homes site currently includes two test homes - the baseline home and the experimental home. These homes are identical in nearly every respect except for the equipment being tested. They are typical of existing homes in the Inland Northwest (Pacific Northwest east of the Cascade Mountain Range) and, aside from experimental equipment, are equipped with appliances found in nearly every home: an electric stove, microwave, dishwasher, refrigerator, a washer and dryer, a water heater, and a heat pump HVAC system . In all of our experiments, the baseline home serves as an un-altered control home, while the experimental home is equipped with energy-efficient technologies. Researchers closely monitor energy and water use, environmental conditions (humidity), and indoor environmental quality in each home to look for differences between the two homes during their experiments.

By studying new energy-efficient technologies in a setting that closely imitates real homes, our researchers can get a better understanding of true energy savings potential for homeowners, as well as gain insights into how a technology might be improved. The technologies we test here may one day be common in all homes, helping save energy and water while reducing costs and protecting the environment.

Learn more about the PNNL Lab Homes.

Title Publication Date Citation
PNNL Lab Homes: A Platform for Efficiency and Smart Grid Technology Demonstrations September 2013 Widder SH, and GB Parker. 2013. "PNNL Lab Homes: A Platform for Efficiency and Smart Grid Technology Demonstrations." Presented by Parker, Graham & Widder, Sarah (Invited Speaker) at Northwest Public Power Association "Communications & Energy Innovations" Conference, Salishan Resort, OR on September 16, 2013. PNNL-SA-98333.
Abstract | Full Publication
PNNL Lab Homes May 2012 Widder SH, GB Parker, and MC Baechler. 2012. "PNNL Lab Homes." Presented by Sarah Widder (Invited Speaker) at Conference call/web meeting with DOE Building America Technical Team, May 10, 2012. PNNL-SA-88804.
Abstract | Full Publication

Lab Homes Staff

Honored Alumni

In Memory of Subrato Chandra

Subrato Chandra

Subrato Chandra

Subrato Chandra was a pioneer in bringing analytical thinking and research to improve the performance of houses. Subrato began his career with a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from West Virginia University and helped to initiate buildings research at the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), where he led projects for 34 years. In addition to his work at FSEC, he was on the faculty of the University of Central Florida in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Construction Engineering. Subrato retired from FSEC in 2010 and joined the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) to manage a large and complex Building America residential retrofit research project, including the creation of two lab homes at PNNL's main campus. In January 2012, Subrato died following complications from surgery. Subrato was both a friend and mentor to his colleagues and collaborators. He loved his work and embraced each day, and his spirit lives on through the research in the Lab Homes.

In Memory of Marylynn Placet

Marylynn Placet

Marylynn Placet

Marylynn Placet was a champion for building energy efficiency and alternative energy technologies. Marylynn was tireless in her efforts of communicating PNNL's vision for the LabHomes to potential DOE sponsors. She had a clear vision of how the LabHomes could be used to conduct a wide range of research focused on answering very practical and important questions. Confident in her knowledge that the LabHomes research could result in significant energy savings on a national level, she was instrumental in helping secure the funding that enabled the Lab Homes to become a reality.

Marylynn joined PNNL in January 1991. She was nationally known for her work in acid rain precipitation. She built upon that reputation developing expertise in climate change policy, hydrogen production, energy efficiency, renewable energy and sustainable development. She continued serving as a leading analyst and project manager, while simultaneously serving as a technical group manager and relationship manager. Marylynn passed away at her home in Maryland in September 2011. Along with the lasting legacy of the LabHomes, she left behind many friends and colleagues at PNNL.

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