Over the course of 5 years, NREL worked with commercial building owners and their design teams in the DOE Commercial Building Partnerships (CBP) to cut energy consumption by 50% in new construction (versus code) and by 30% in existing building pilot projects (versus code or pre-retrofit operational energy use depending on the preference of the Partner) using strategies that could be replicated across their building portfolios. A number of different building types were addressed, including supermarket, retail merchandise, combination big box (general merchandise and food sales), high rise office space, and warehouse. The projects began in pre-design and included a year of measurement data to evaluate performance against design expectations. Focused attention was required throughout the entire process to achieve a design with the potential to hit the energy performance target and to operate the resulting building to reach this potential. This paper will report quantitative results and cover both the technical and the human sides of CBP, including the elements that were required to succeed and where stumbling blocks were encountered. It will also address the impact of energy performance goals and intensive energy modeling on the design process innovations and best practices.
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NREL experienced a significant increase in employees and facilities on our 327-acre main campus in Golden, Colorado over the past five years. To support this growth, researchers developed and demonstrated a new building acquisition method that successfully integrates energy efficiency requirements into the design-build requests for proposals and contracts. We piloted this energy performance based design-build process with our first new construction project in 2008. We have since replicated and evolved the process for large office buildings, a smart grid research laboratory, a supercomputer, a parking structure, and a cafeteria. Each project incorporated aggressive efficiency strategies using contractual energy use requirements in the design-build contracts, all on typical construction budgets. We have found that when energy efficiency is a core project requirement as defined at the beginning of a project, innovative design-build teams can integrate the most cost effective and high performance efficiency strategies on typical construction budgets. When the design-build contract includes measurable energy requirements and is set up to incentivize design-build teams to focus on achieving high performance in actual operations, owners can now expect their facilities to perform. As NREL completed the new construction in 2013, we have documented our best practices in training materials and a how-to guide so that other owners and owner’s representatives can replicate our successes and learn from our experiences in attaining market viable, world-class energy performance in the built environment.