Commercial Reference Buildings

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DOE developed Commercial Reference Buildings which provide descriptions for whole building analysis using EnergyPlus. There are 16 building types and three categories that apply to all building types. The commercial reference buildings were developed across 16 reference locations.


Building Types

DOE developed 16 Commercial Reference Building Types[1] , which represent approximately 70% of the commercial buildings in the U.S. [2]. Whole building energy analysis data (developed using EnergyPlus simulation software) is available for each construction category (listed below) and each building type.

Building Type Name Floor Area (sq-ft) No. of Floors Energy Analysis Data
Large Office 498,588 12 Available
Medium Office 53,628 3 Available
Small Office 5,500 1 Available
Warehouse 52,045 1 Available
Stand-alone Retail 24,962 1 Available
Strip Mall 22,500 1 Available
Primary School 73,960 1 Available
Secondary School 210,887 2 Available
Supermarket 45,000 1 Available
Quick Service Restaurant 2,500 1 Available
Full Service Restaurant 5,500 1 Available
Hospital 241,351 5 Available
Outpatient Health Care 40,946 3 Available
Small Hotel 43,200 4 Available
Large Hotel 122,120 6 Available
Midrise Apartment 33,740 4 Available

Construction Categories

  • New construction
  • Post-1980 existing construction
  • Pre-1980 existing construction

Climate Zones Used to Create Reference Buildings

16 climate zones, which represent all U.S. climate zones, were used to create the reference buildings[3]:

Climate Zone Representative City
1A Miami, FL
2A Houston, TX
2B Phoenix, AZ
3A Atlanta, GA
3B-Coast Los Angeles, CA
3B Las Vegas, NV
3C San Francisco, CA
4A Baltimore, MD
4B Albuquerque, NM
4C Seattle, WA
5A Chicago, IL
5B Boulder, CO
3C San Francisco, CA
6A Minneapolis, MN
6B Helena, MT
7 Duluth, MN
8 Fairbanks, AK


  1. U.S. DOE Commercial Reference Buildings EERE Website
  2. U.S. DOE Commercial Reference Building Models of the National Building Stock NREL/TP-5500-46861 (Feb 2011)
  3. U.S. DOE Commercial Reference Buildings EERE Website