Deep Energy Retrofits for Existing Buildings

Deep Energy Main Slide

The Green Lab is partnering with New Buildings Institute on a project called Deep Energy Savings in Existing Buildings, which will provide guidance for owners of smaller commercial buildings to achieve deep energy savings (50 percent and greater) through energy retrofits. We know that small and medium buildings matter as a critical (but as yet underserved) market for efficiency gains, representing 95% of all buildings and half of the commercial floorspace.  These buildings require simplified turn-key approaches that deliver deep sets of efficiency solutions requiring little time, knowledge or direct financial investment from the owners. The primary product of this project will be a free, online retrofit tool that will allow building owners to select retrofit strategies that are customized to their building’s size, features, climate and uses for deep energy savings without the need for computer energy modeling that is often cost prohibitive for owners of modestly sized buildings.

In the first phase of this project, the Green Lab helped New Buildings Institute investigate 11 examples of energy retrofits in existing commercial buildings that, on average, use 50% less energy than the national average – most with an energy use intensity (EUI) of less than 40 kBtu per square foot. The Project Profiles for each building include motivations, technologies and practices, energy performance, financial information, overall project results and quotes from owner and design teams. A Meta Report contains the aggregated results of the case studies plus findings from an initial group of 50 buildings with 30% or more energy savings. This research was made possible by support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Kresge Foundation and the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA).

In the project’s second phase, the Green Lab is describing the market for the online retrofit tool, so that we can target our work to buildings and owners most likely to take advantage of the resource. Defining the “smaller buildings retrofit market” is no easy task. We are segmenting the building stock to identify “market clusters” of buildings that are: most in need of energy retrofits; under-served in the current marketplace; culturally and economically valuable or endangered; and that represent a substantial portion of the existing building stock smaller than 50,000 square feet. This is a new approach to market segmentation with emphasis on both smaller buildings and physical characteristics, and we think it will change the way smaller buildings are considered as opportunities in the marketplace by technical experts and financing entities. As part of this work, we co-hosted the Deep Energy Savings in Existing Buildings Summit, bringing more than 80 industry experts together to discuss strategies for delivering deep savings to existing buildings.

In the final phase, the Green Lab will be involved in piloting of the retrofit tool once it is complete and is exploring with NBI opportunities for a second phase of this work that will focus on retrofits of multi-family buildings. Look for a chance to help us test the tool in your community.

To learn more about Deep Energy Savings in Existing Buildings please go to the New Building Institute webpage or contact Ric Cochrane, Project Manager of the Preservation Green Lab.