Plug and process loads (PPLs) in commercial buildings account for almost 5% of U.S. primary energy consumption. Minimizing these loads is a primary challenge in the design and operation of an energy-efficient building. PPLs are not related to general lighting, heating, ventilation, cooling, and water heating, and typically do not provide comfort to the occupants. They use an increasingly large fraction of the building energy use pie because the number and variety of electrical devices have increased along with building system efficiency. Reducing PPLs is difficult because energy efficiency opportunities and the equipment needed to address PPL energy use in office spaces are poorly understood.
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This publication details the design, implementation strategies, and continuous performance monitoring of NREL's Research Support Facility data center.
This case study details the design and operations of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Research Support Facility data center and its contributions to energy efficiency.
Plug and process loads in commercial buildings account for 5% of U.S. primary energy consumption. Minimizing these loads is a primary challenge in the design and operation of an energy-efficient building.
This article, published in High Performance Buildings Magazine, presents the process used for delivering NREL's Research Support Facility (RSF) as a replicable blueprint to achieve a large reduction in building energy use and to adopt a net zero energy approach for large-scale commercial buildings (ZEB) without increasing cost.
The small buildings and small portfolios (SBSP) sector face a number of barriers that inhibit SBSP owners from adopting energy efficiency solutions. This pilot project focused on overcoming two of the largest barriers to financing energy efficiency in small buildings: disproportionately high transaction costs and unknown or unacceptable risk. Solutions to these barriers can often be at odds, because inexpensive turnkey solutions are often not sufficiently tailored to the unique circumstances of each building, reducing confidence that the expected energy savings will be achieved. To address these barriers, NREL worked with two innovative, forward-thinking lead partners, Michigan Saves and Energi, to develop technical solutions that provide a quick and easy process to encourage energy efficiency investments while managing risk.
The pilot project was broken into two stages: the first stage focused on reducing transaction costs, and the second stage focused on reducing performance risk. In the first stage, NREL worked with the non-profit organization, Michigan Saves, to analyze the effects of 8 energy efficiency measures (EEMs) on 81 different baseline small office building models in Holland, Michigan (climate zone 5A). The results of this analysis (totaling over 30,000 cases) are summarized in a simple spreadsheet tool that enables users to easily sort through the results and find appropriate small office EEM packages that meet a particular energy savings threshold and are likely to be cost-effective.
The energy efficiency community has worked hard to engage lenders and consumers in what is estimated by the Rockefeller Foundation and Deutsche Bank to be a $279 billion market for energy efficiency investment. Great advances have been made in the federal and public sector’s program development arena, yet private sector transaction volume remains frustratingly low. In an effort to understand nuanced obstacles to market participation, ACEEE and Energi Insurance Services convened a group of small to mid-size lenders to discuss opportunities for increasing both lender and consumer participation in the energy efficiency space. Lender representation spanned state and local commercial banks, community banks, community development financial institutions (CDFIs), credit unions, and “green” lenders. This paper presents the obstacles identified in the convening and offers recommendations to the energy efficiency community to foster growth in the market for energy efficiency financing.
Small commercial buildings – those smaller than 50,000 square feet – offer substantial and immediate energy efficiency opportunities and cost savings. The Small Buildings and Small Portfolios (SBSP) sector contains 95 percent of all commercial buildings by number and represents 47 percent of the energy consumption in all non-mall commercial buildings. However this building stock has received little attention in the growing energy efficiency marketplace compared to larger and institutionally owned counterparts, in part because of the market’s vast scale, physical diversity, and the disparate interests of its stakeholders.
While acknowledging these challenges, this study estimates that profitable investments in energy conservation can generate $30 billion in annual energy cost savings, improving the financial performance of millions of small businesses throughout the United States.
This guide primarily applies to facility managers and energy managers of large existing office buildings larger than 100,000 square feet, but also includes considerations for small and medium office buildings. By presenting general project planning guidance as well as financial payback metrics for the most common energy efficiency measures, this guide provides a practical roadmap for effectively planning and implementing performance improvements for existing buildings.
This paper documents the methodology developed to identify and reduce plug and process loads (PPLs) as part of NREL's Research Support Facility's (RSF) low energy design process. PPLs, including elevators, kitchen equipment in breakrooms, and office equipment in NREL’s previously occupied office spaces were examined to determine a baseline. This, along with research into the most energy-efficient products and practices, enabled the formulation of a reduction strategy that should yield a 47% reduction in PPLs. The building owner and the design team played equally important roles in developing and implementing opportunities to reduce PPLs. Based on the work done in the RSF, a generalized multistep process has been developed for application to other buildings.