U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Tribal Energy Program

Whole Building Design

The "whole building" design approach is a way of designing buildings by looking at the building structure, systems and surroundings together, and considering how all these systems work best together to save energy and reduce environmental impact.

Generally considered are:

  • Heating, cooling and ventilation
  • Insulation, windows and lighting
  • Climate
  • Heat gain (how the building might take on unwanted heat)
  • Building orientation, siting, and landscaping
  • Innovative building materials.

For a further discussion of whole building design, seeĀ DOE's Buildings Web site.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and DOE collaborate on the Energy Star program, a voluntary labeling program designed to identify and promote energy-efficient products to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Energy Star Web site provides useful information on thousands of these products, including new homes and commercial and industrial buildings.

DOE's "Consumer's Guide to Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy" has a comprehensive section on designing and remodeling, including information on the whole-house systems design approach.

The Western Area Power Administration has published a four-page fact sheet on a related topic, Building Commissioning (PDF 89 KB). Download Adobe Reader.