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eLAD is a US Department of Energy (DOE) project, for which Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) is the prime contractor. The goal of eLAD is to develop an eLearning platform for lighting and daylighting.


The mission of eLAD is to improve the ability of the building industry to design, build, operate, maintain, and fix high performing energy-efficient commercial buildings. The approach is to enhance the education and training of key decision makers and participants, including architects, mechanical designers, commissioning providers, service technicians, and building operators. The intent is to improve their understanding of ways to improve how to design, document, install, commission, operate, and maintain buildings.

The Problem

It is common for buildings to underperform compared to the energy savings potential identified during design. Sometimes such underperformance is significant. To allow the energy-efficiency potential from early design to be realized in the building during operation, a life-cycle approach is needed to ensure that design concepts and high-efficiency equipment are properly installed, calibrated, tested, operated, and maintained. This discussion is applied to commercial buildings, but many aspects also extend to residential buildings.

Several major trends are increasing the complexity and difficulty of properly operating and maintaining buildings:

  • As building designers innovate, attempting to achieve higher performance, the risk of failure increases.
  • Digital control technology is becoming common in both new and existing building systems. Thus, building operators and technicians must master a new set of computer-related skills (e.g., hardware, software, database management, and local area networking) in addition to their traditional skills of building system management and repair.
  • Regulations and policies are increasingly involved, including new commissioning and sustainability factors.
  • Energy performance monitoring, commissioningm and retro commissioning together address the increasing cost of energy but require advanced capabilities to be effective.


eLAD can be used in either individual or group-learning situations. The software is open source and designed for use via the web, thus facilitating widespread use and potential extension and modification. All tools and resources developed are intended to be available at no cost to users.

Audiences and the Building Life Cycle

Key intended users are students in two-year and four-year college programs. Two other key audiences are building facility managers and operations and maintenance (O&M) personnel. Secondary audiences encompass a wide range of players within the building industry including building operators, maintenance technicians, commissioning providers, and building design professionals. eLAD is not a design tool (although eLAD can be used in learning about design issues). It is an eLearning tool intended to allow users to learn (1) how buildings function and (2) how to address and solve lighting and energy problems that can occur at each stage of a building’s life cycle including: pre-design, design, construction document preparation, construction, occupancy, operations and maintenance, retrofit. eLAD platform and scenarios are intended for use in a number of educational settings:

  • As part of classroom lectures
  • For individual and team problem-solving classroom exercises
  • As part of seminars and workshops at energy centers
  • As part of instructor-assisted or directed online or hybrid courses
  • As part of online virtual team problem-solving exercises, where team members are either in the same location or are in different locations
  • For individual self-directed learning situations that can be customized by the instructor

The platform is intended for potential use by people at the following educational levels:

  • Continuing education programs
  • Two-year programs in community colleges and technical schools
  • Four-year college and university, and post-graduate programs
  • High school students

Representative users and user groups are included in the software development teams, from academic designers and design practitioners to educational institutions such as community colleges, universities, and continuing education centers.

Development Process

Switch from plugins to WebGL

eLAD is an early adopter of WebGL. WebGL provides support for 3D animated graphics in web sites. Unlike previous frameworks like Flash or Java applets, no browser plug-in is required for WebGL, and animation can be seamlessly integrated into web sites.


eLAD is built partly in Kuda, an authoring environment for WebGL developed by SRI International.

Project Teams

The project development teams include energy researchers, energy experts, pedagogy experts, instructional designers, professional software developers, 3D modelers and animation specialists, and managers with solid experience in both energy research and software development. The software development process has been designed to include the active participation and feedback of representatives of California educational institutions and organizations. Successful software gains depth, relevance and richness from a collaboration of a team of experts with diverse skills. Our development team has years of experience in producing easy-to-use, effective, and relevant educational software.

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