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.
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.
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.
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 guidelines for SBA lenders to understand the value of financing energy efficiency investments.
"This paper discusses the evidence regarding daylighting and student performance and development, and presents four case studies of schools that have cost effectively implemented daylighting into their buildings."
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.
Case study about how the U.S. General Services Administration successfully renovated the historic Wayne N. Aspinall Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse. GSA’s goals were to preserve the building’s historic features, and achieve Zero Energy Building status. This case study provides an overview of how reducing plug load energy helped achieve the Zero Energy Building status.