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Detailed Energy Model of the NIST Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility: Development, Modification, and Validation



Elizabeth C. Balke, G. F. Nellis, S. A. Klein, Harrison Skye, Tania Ullah


The NIST Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility (NZERTF) is a highly instrumented, highly configurable, single-family, net-zero energy house occupied by a virtual family of four. A detailed transient model of the NZERTF and the accompanying mechanical equipment was created using information available before construction; the model incorporated building geometric details and construction material properties, as well as manufacturers' specifications for HVAC, water heating, solar PV and other equipment. This model represents the typical design paradigm, where actual building performance and detailed equipment operation are not known. This original model underpredicted the measured annual energy consumption by 13.8 %. The measured data were used to understand and correct the sources of error at the component level; modifications to the HVAC system, interior thermal capacitance, and domestic hot water system improved the energy consumption prediction to within 1.6 % of measured data. The differences between the original and modified models are useful for understanding the sources, magnitudes, and possible corrections to errors in energy models for high-efficiency residences. The modified model will be used in future studies of alternative energy system configurations and control strategies, contributing to cost-effective and optimum design of net-zero energy houses in America.
Science and Technology for the Built Environment


Net Zero Energy, TRNSYS, Modeling, Experimental Validation


Balke, E. , Nellis, G. , Klein, S. , Skye, H. and Ullah, T. (2017), Detailed Energy Model of the NIST Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility: Development, Modification, and Validation, Science and Technology for the Built Environment, [online],, (Accessed May 22, 2024)


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Created October 11, 2017, Updated October 12, 2021