Research to generate new knowledge that supports evidence-based design is a top NLI priority. Included is the post-occupancy evaluation (POE) of model environments (new construction and renovation), created by NLI and others, and the testing and evaluation of design prototypes. Behavior mapping developed by NLI over the last two decades is now a paperless method using handheld devices for observing behavior and associated social interactions, environmental attributes, and physical elements. NLI research projects are often conducted with interdisciplinary partners at NC State University and other universities and research centers nationally and internationally.

Major funding has been provided by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), The National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institute for Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF, through Active Living Research, San Diego State University), the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation of North Carolina (BCBSNC), the Buffalo Hospital Foundation (BHF), and the John Rex Endowment.