There is nothing small about the impact that small commercial buildings have on energy use in the United States. In fact, the 4.6 million small buildings across the nation consume 44% of the overall energy use in buildings, presenting an enormous opportunity to cut costs, energy use, and greenhouse gas emissions. Despite this potential, small building owners and operators face unique challenges that have historically impeded the adoption of widespread energy efficiency solutions. A new report developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) examines these barriers and suggests a path forward to support cost-effective energy savings for the small buildings and small portfolios sector, which typically has limited resources to pursue energy efficiency solutions.
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Small buildings have been left behind in the energy efficiency marketplace because financial and technical resources have flowed to larger commercial buildings (PGL 2013). DOE’s Building Technologies Office (BTO) works with the commercial building industry to accelerate the uptake of energy efficiency technologies and techniques in existing and new commercial buildings (DOE 2013). BTO recognizes the SBSP sector’s potential for significant energy savings and the need for investments in resources that are tailored to this sector’s unique needs. The industry research and recommendations described in this report identify potential approaches and strategic priorities that BTO could explore over the next 3–5 years that will support the implementation of high-potential energy efficiency opportunities for this important sector.
This document lists a set of resources that can help small business owners make informed decisions about their energy use and identify opportunities for long-term financial savings from energy efficiency improvements. These resources include case studies, energy savings and investment calculators, technical guides and information on state and federal incentives programs.
One of the nation’s largest schools serving over 60,000 students, the University of Minnesota (U of M) is upgrading the lighting at all 18 parking ramps and garages on its Minneapolis campus. In the Northrop Auditorium Garage, a small 24,000 square foot facility with 75 parking spots, U of M replaced low-wattage high-pressure sodium fixtures with high efficiency, lower- wattage LED fixtures with lighting controls. This Lighting Energy Efficiency in Parking (LEEP) Campaign Award winning project achieved 90% energy savings by upgrading to LEDs with lighting controls.
NorthBay VacaValley Hospital completed lighting retrofits to their 150,000 square foot parking lot and its 225 parking spaces. They did so with help from The California Lighting Technology Center (CLTC) at the University of California, Davis. The project has achieved 65% savings and received a 2014 Lighting Energy Efficiency in Parking (LEEP) Campaign’s award for best use of lighting controls. In addition, the retrofits improved lighting maintenance operations and end-user satisfaction.
The lighting retrofit included replacing roughly 50 induction luminaires with new LED fixtures with embedded lighting controls.
The new LED fixtures were coupled with various kinds of lighting control systems, including a radio frequency (RF) connectivity control system that was installed in dedicated zones with passive- infrared (PIR) and long-range microwave sensors to achieve energy savings. An “ultra-smart” lighting control network was also put in place, giving facility managers the ability to adjust lighting schedules, light levels and time-out settings, monitor the system’s energy use, and receive automated alerts when luminaires require maintenance.
When it comes to achieving significant sustainability gains, an international retail giant has unique opportunities to cut energy use. With a total of 4,500 sites, Walmart’s commitment to efficiency in parking lighting in new construction and retrofits is paying off in major savings.
As a result of its lighting upgrades Walmart received individual Lighting Energy Efficiency in Parking (LEEP) Campaign awards for a superstore, a neighborhood market and a Sam’s Club. Across 100 stores including both new and retrofitted sites, over 40 million square feet in surfaces for parking and over 100,000 parking spaces, Walmart is saving over 15 million kWh each year as a result of lighting upgrades.
With 7 hospitals and 22 physician locations serving more than 9 Wisconsin counties, ThedaCare has ample room to implement and reap the benefits of building efficiency measures. At the Appleton Medical Center, ThedaCare’s Lighting Energy Efficiency in Parking (LEEP) Campaign Award winning project involved replacing inefficient medium-wattage HID lighting fixtures at a 126,000 square foot parking structure with high efficiency low-wattage LED fixtures. The resulting energy savings exceed 80 percent of the previous usage. A 100-year old company and the third largest health care employer in Wisconsin, ThedaCare has now implemented LED exterior lighting throughout Appleton Medical Center.
Presentation slides from Design Team Commitment: An Architect's Perspective presentation given at the NASA Net-Zero Energy workshop June 5-6, 2012.
The second largest gaming company in the world by revenue, MGM Resorts International (MGM) has recently installed energy efficient parking area lighting and controls at 65% of its U.S. facilities. With 20 U.S. facilities in NV, MI, and MS, MGM lighting projects have covered more than 8 million square feet of parking area. By replacing more than 4,400 existing metal halide and high-pressure sodium light fixtures in the parking facilities with a mixture of LED and induction fixtures, MGM saved 4.5 million kWh per year across their portfolio.
Most impressively, at the MGM Grand Detroit Casino–a 401-room hotel and gaming facility— the company achieved 4 million kWh of annual energy savings by replacing medium-wattage metal halide fixtures in a 2.6 million square foot parking structure with high efficiency, low- wattage LED fixtures.
Access to foundational energy performance data is key to improving the efficiency of the built environment. However, stakeholders often lack access to what they perceive as credible energy performance data. Therefore, even if a stakeholder determines that a product would increase efficiency, they often have difficulty convincing their management to move forward. Even when credible data do exist, such data are not always sufficient to support detailed energy performance analyses, or the development of robust business cases.
One reason for this is that the data parameters that are provided are generally based on the respective industry norms. Thus, for mature industries with extensive testing standards, the data made available are often quite detailed. But for emerging technologies, or for industries with less well-developed testing standards, available data are generally insufficient to support robust analysis. However, even for mature technologies, there is no guarantee that the data being supplied are the same data needed to accurately evaluate a product’s energy performance.
To address these challenges, the U.S. Department of Energy funded development of a free, publically accessible Web-based portal, the Technology Performance Exchange™, to facilitate the transparent identification, storage, and sharing of foundational energy performance data. The Technology Performance Exchange identifies the intrinsic, technology-specific parameters necessary for a user to perform a credible energy analysis and includes a robust database to store these data. End users can leverage stored data to evaluate the site-specific performance of various technologies, support financial analyses with greater confidence, and make better informed procurement decisions.