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Determine if Renewable Energy Makes Sense for Your Organization

Use the tools below to help determine if a renewable energy project makes sense for your organization and to understand the business case for renewables. Then check out the real-world examples from Better Buildings partners who successfully implemented renewable energy projects.


Tools and Resources


Decide if On-Site Commercial Solar PV is Right for You
DOE’s Decision Guide
This in-depth resource provides information on conducting technical and financial studies, financing a photovoltaic (PV) system, procurement, project execution, operations and maintenance, and assessing benefits. There are also guides for the Healthcare and Hospitality sectors: 

NREL’s Cost Analysis of Installing Solar PV Systems
Residential, Commercial, and Utility Scale Installations
Guidance Document
An analysis of the total costs associated with installing PV systems for residential rooftop, commercial rooftop, and utility-scale ground-mount systems. Includes cost models for solar-plus-storage systems.

State of the Solar Industry Market Report
EERE’s Quarterly Update
A broad summary of the solar market released each quarter by the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL).

An Overview of the National Community Solar Partnership
Objectives, Approach, and Partners
The National Community Solar Partnership™ (NCSP) is a coalition of community solar stakeholders working to expand access to affordable community solar to every American household by 2025. Partners leverage peer networks and technical assistance resources to set goals and work to overcome persistent barriers to expanding community solar access to underserved communities.

Frequently Asked Questions on Small Wind Systems
EERE Addresses Benefits, Rooftop Installations, and More
Guidance Document
Small wind turbine technology (<100 kilowatts) is most commonly used at homes and smaller farms and at commercial and industrial facilities. This FAQ is focused on using a small wind energy system to power your site. 

Renewables, Distributed Generation, and Microgrids for the Industrial Sector
Explore additional resources for Better Plants partners and connect with the renewables, distributed generation, and microgrids subject matter expert.

Small Wind Guidebook from WINDExchange
Guidance Document
The Small Wind Guidebook helps homeowners, ranchers, and small businesses decide if wind energy will work for them. Learn about turbine sizes, costs, and other important considerations.

Small Wind Certification Council's Consumer Information
Consumer resources to help you find and compare suppliers, plus information about the existing standards around small wind technologies. 

2019 Distributed Wind Data Summary
Slide Deck
This report from the Pacific Northwest National Lab details industry trends and market statistics for U.S. wind turbines in distributed applications.


Identify and Evaluate Renewable Energy Projects 
Tools for Making Performance Predictions and Performing Costs Analyses, from NREL
Guidance Document
This fact sheet helps users decide the appropriate tools for evaluating a renewable energy project based on required inputs, key outputs, and level of effort/expertise.

REopt Lite Modeling Tool
Evaluate Financial Viability and System Sizing for Resilience 
REopt Lite is a web tool that helps commercial building managers evaluate the economic viability of grid-connected PV, wind, and battery storage at a site, identify system sizes and battery dispatch strategies to minimize energy costs, and estimate how long a system can sustain critical load during a grid outage.

Distributed Energy Resources Customer Adoption Model (DER-CAM)
Decision-making Assistance for Finding Optimal Distributed Energy Resources
The Distributed Energy Resources Customer Adoption Model (DER-CAM) is a powerful and comprehensive decision-support tool that primarily serves the purpose of finding optimal distributed energy resource (DER) investments in the context of either buildings or multi-energy microgrids.

PVWatts® Calculator
NREL’s Calculator for Estimating the Costs of Grid Connected PV Systems
This calculator estimates the energy production and cost of energy of grid-connected PV systems throughout the world. It allows homeowners, small building owners, installers, and manufacturers to develop estimates of the performance of potential PV installations.

The Energy Storage Computational Tool (ESCT)
Calculating the Value of Grid Connected Energy Storage Projects
This tool is used for identifying, quantifying, and monetizing the benefits of grid-connected energy storage projects to calculate the net present value over the system lifetime.

Community Solar Business Case Tool
Projecting the Costs and Benefits of Community Solar
This tool provides a flexible financial model that projects the costs and benefits to the system developer and subscriber of a single community solar project.

State and Local Planning for Energy (SLOPE) Tool
Data Projections for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
The SLOPE tool aims to improve data-driven state and local energy planning by integrating and resolving planning-relevant data at jurisdictional levels. SLOPE Beta integrates data on energy efficiency and renewable energy opportunities.

Assess the Costs of Renewable Energy Using NREL’s Spreadsheet Tool 
CREST contains economic, cash-flow models designed to assess project economics for renewable energy projects, informing the size of the project to finance. The cost inputs included in the model should be updated using cost information found at the NREL Annual Technology Baseline

Comparative PV Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) Calculator
Use the Comparative Photovoltaic Levelized Cost of Energy Calculator (Comparative PV LCOE Calculator) to calculate levelized cost of energy (LCOE) for PV systems based on cost, performance, and reliability inputs for a baseline and a proposed technology.

NREL's Distributed Energy Screening Map
This map uses geospatial data to examine the viability of distributed energy technologies in the U.S. at the state and federal levels.

Partner solutions and case studies

Better Buildings partners share their proven and replicable renewable energy solutions. Read more about each solution below.

Financing a Renewable and Alternative Energy Commitment
The Home Depot and RILA
Implementation Model
Home Depot has taken advantage of the most appropriate market options to implement a variety of onsite and offsite renewable energy projects to help achieve its targets: 135 MW of energy through renewable and alternative sources by 2020.

Solar Field and Continuous Energy Efficiency Improvement
Schneider Electric
Showcase Project
Schneider Electric is advancing energy efficiency and renewable energy at its Smyrna, Tennessee plant through two major initiatives: 1) the construction of a 1 MW solar farm; and 2) a robust energy management program.

Parking Ramp Solar Array in Healthcare
Gundersen Health System
Case Study
Getting top-level buy-in and creative financing opportunities made a solar array on a Wisconsin hospital a reality.

Making the Case for Rapid Solar Rollout
Whole Foods and RILA
Implementation Model
Whole Foods worked with a regional utility provider to customize energy efficiency incentives for the grocery sector and signed an agreement to receive incentive funds based on actual energy reductions.

Improving Resilience in Public Buildings:
Distributed Energy Resources - 3 Case Studies and a Step-by-Step Guide
Guidance Document
This guide demonstrates completed analysis on potential energy investments at existing facilities managed by three partners in DOE’s Better Buildings Challenge, including the state of North Carolina, the city of Hillsboro, Oregon, and Alachua County Public School District in Florida.

Find Solutions to Other Common Renewable Energy Barriers: