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.
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.
Dollars saved through energy efficiency can directly impact your bottom line. Whether you are planning for a major renovation or upgrading individual pieces of building equipment, these improvements can help reduce operating costs, save on utility bills, and boost profits. This fact sheet provides a guide for small businesses to find the resources to increase the energy efficiency of their buildings.
This guide was created to help healthcare facility decision-makers plan, design, and implement energy improvement projects in their facilities. It was designed with energy managers in mind, and presents practical guidance for kick-starting the process and maintaining momentum throughout the project life cycle.
The Advanced Energy Retrofit Guide for Grocery Stores was created to help grocery store decision makers plan, design, and implement energy improvement projects in their facilities. It was designed with energy managers in mind, and presents practical guidance for kick-starting the process and maintaining momentum throughout the project life cycle.
K–12 schools are ideal candidates to lead the market shift from buildings that consume energy to buildings that produce as much renewable energy as they use. There are now resources to guide owners and project teams as they make the shift to these “zero energy” buildings, notably the Advanced Energy Design Guide for K–12 School Buildings: Achieving Zero Energy (K–12 ZE AEDG).
This 10-page paper provides a concise overview of the K–12 ZE AEDG (200 pages), as well as a nice explanation of the energy modeling and analysis methodology used to create the Design Guide.
The Advanced Energy Retrofit Guide for K-12 Schools is one of five retrofit guides commissioned by the U.S. Department of Energy. By presenting general project planning guidance as well as more detailed descriptions and financial payback metrics for the most important and relevant energy efficiency measures, the guides provide a practical roadmap for effectively planning and implementing performance improvements in existing buildings. The K-12 Schools guide provides convenient and practical guidance for making cost-effective energy efficiency improvements in public, private, and parochial schools.
This paper describes the development of energy efficiency recommendations for achieving 30% whole-building energy savings in K-12 schools over levels achieved by following the ANSI/ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1, Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings (over both the 1999 and 2004 versions of the standard).
This brochure describes the USD 422 K-12 School in Greensburg, Kansas.