Community Buildings Efficiency Programs
Energy consumption in buildings is a large drain on communities.
In fact, buildings consume some 40 percent of the world’s total energy. Measures
to improve the energy efficiency of buildings, therefore, hold tremendous potential.
The Congressional Office of Technology Assessment estimates that commercially
available, cost-effective energy technologies could reduce overall energy consumption
in the United States by as much as one-third--worth some $343 billion.
efficiency in buildings becomes even more important with predictions from DOE's
Energy Information Administration (EIA) that winter energy costs will continue
to increase. To keep current with EIA's projections, see its Short-Term
The National Association of Counties,
representing more than 1,500 county officials, has joined with the U.S. EPA in
counties to protect the environment, save energy and cut operating costs
by improving the energy efficiency of county courthouse and office buildings.
Community programs that address energy conservation in buildings
can be very effective. Efforts to weatherize homes, reduce energy use in municipal
buildings and schools, and make commercial buildings operate more efficiently
can save consumers and municipalities money, ease budget constraints, and help
A great deal of additional information on energy conservation
in buildings can be found in the Green Buildings
section of this website.
Liquefied Natural Gas, or LNG, has been a subject
of increasing attention since July 2003, when Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham
proposed holding a Global Liquefied Natural Gas Summit by the end of the year.
About the same time, Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, noted
that increased LNG imports could act as a "safety valve" to help the
U.S. natural gas markets respond to price spikes caused by imbalances of supply
and demand within the United States. DOE reiterated that message last week, when
it enlisted the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC)
to help educate energy decision-makers about LNG. Read
The group of eight leaders of large industrialized countries,
known simply as the G8, recently set forth plans to encourage energy efficiency
and renewable energy development around the world. The G8 Summit, which brought
together in June 2003 the leaders of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada,
Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, and France, resulted in a document that noted "the
need ... to support the development of cleaner, sustainable and more efficient
technologies." The document commits to promoting energy efficiency and encouraging
rapid innovation and market introduction of clean energy technologies. To increase
the share of renewable energy in global energy use, and to accelerate the development
of fuel cell and hydrogen technologies, the G8 emphasizes collaborative research
with an emphasis on achieving competitive energy prices. The G8 will also encourage
the Global Environment Fund to increase energy efficiency, renewable energy, and
sustainable energy use when setting up its programs. See
the action plan.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved a
$16.3 million energy
efficiency pilot project for the city in late July 2003. The city's environment
department will work with the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) to run
the program, which aims to reduce peak electricity demand for both homes and businesses.
The program will include nine elements aimed at reducing peak power use by 16
megawatts in the city by January 2005, including installing energy efficiency
measures in the homes of low-income families, providing energy audits and other
technical support to businesses, and offering rebates to multifamily housing units
Also in California, the California Energy Commission (CEC)
regulations in mid-December 2004 that will make appliances sold in the
state the most energy-efficient in the nation. The new energy regulations set
standards for incandescent lamps; audio and video equipment; residential pool
pumps and portable electric spas; evaporative coolers; ceiling fans, exhaust fans
and whole house fans; commercial ice makers, refrigerators and freezers; vending
machines; commercial hot-food holding cabinets and water dispensers; and other
appliances. The regulations go into effect on a staggered schedule beginning in
January 2006, and are expected to avoid 100 megawatts of load growth each year
they are in effect, as consumers start buying the new appliances.
State Energy Program is working to implement a Model Energy Code for buildings.
Hawaii's Weatherization Assistance Program works in cooperation with community
organizations to improve residential energy efficiency for low-income families.
The two programs will receive a total of $526,000 from DOE for the 2003 to 2004
fiscal year. See
the DOE press release.
DOE is supporting the construction of a
number of zero-energy buildings throughout the country. In late March, the New
Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) approved the use of a DOE grant to the
Casino Reinvestment Development
Authority for the design and construction of six
zero-energy homes in Atlantic City. DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency
and Renewable Energy (EERE) awarded a grant of $75,613 for the project.
Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance has launched a new efficient-window program
for commercial and multi-family buildings. The Commercial
Windows Initiative will work with manufacturers, developers, and architects
to increase the market share of energy-efficient windows in commercial buildings
throughout the Northwest from 12 to 70 percent by 2010.
A new report by the
North American Energy Working Group (NAEWG) finds that the three North American
countries are quickly moving toward unified standards for energy efficiency. The
American Energy Efficiency Standards and Labeling, was released in December
2002 and highlights Mexico's recent adoption of new standards for energy efficiency.
By early 2003, those new standards will bring Mexico in line with U.S. and Canadian
minimum energy-efficiency requirements and test procedures for refrigerators,
freezers, electric motors, and window air-conditioners, thereby strengthening
the market for high-efficiency products throughout North America.
building technologies are gaining favor in the construction industry. One sign
of this growing acceptance are the "Best Practice" Sustainability Awards,
presented by the Sustainable Buildings Industry Council (SBIC). Read about the
announced in June 2002 the award of $1.989 million to 22 states to help them update
and implement their building energy codes. To date, DOE's investments in building
energy codes have improved the energy efficiency of nearly three billion square
feet of new commercial floor space and nearly four million households, saving
consumers an estimated $4.2 billion. For every dollar spent, DOE's Building Energy
Codes Program yields more than $105 in annual energy savings. This year's awards
will be made to state energy offices and state code authorities by the end of
September 2002. Learn
In Pleasanton, California, the City Council approved in December
2002 a new municipal
energy plan (PDF) that includes a number of provisions to reduce energy
and water consumption, increase the use of renewable energy, and reduce vehicle
AstroPower, Inc. and Clarum Homes announced in June 2002 a
new agreement that will make solar electric systems a standard feature on homes
in two northern California communities. AstroPower will provide 277 solar electric
systems over the next three years for homes in the new Clarum communities of Vista
Montana in Watsonville and Shorebreeze IV in East Palo Alto. The systems will
be a standard feature on every home and will range from 1.2 to 3.2 kilowatts in
generating capacity. Clarum will also include energy efficiency features in the
new homes that, combined with the solar electric system, should reduce energy
use in the homes by 60 percent relative to comparable homes in the area. Read
Homes in southeastern Pennsylvania may feature a growing number
of solar electric installations through an incentive program launched last month
by the Energy Cooperative. The Philadelphia-based company is offering to pay consumers
20 cents per kilowatt-hour for power produced by solar electric systems installed
on their homes. The Cooperative's goal is to purchase 100,000 kilowatt-hours of
solar power by the end of this year. To take advantage of the program, customers
must be members of the Energy Cooperative and must purchase the Co-op's "EcoChoice
100" brand of 100 percent renewable energy. The system must meet specific
criteria and must include a separate meter to measure its output. Learn
The 38.7-kilowatt White Bluffs Solar Station is now online
in Richland, Washington. The largest such facility in the Northwest, the solar
station is owned and operated by Energy Northwest. DOE's Bonneville Power Administration
(BPA) will integrate the power from the system into its electrical grid, while
the Bonneville Environmental Foundation will sell green tags from the project.
DOE contributed $30,000 toward the project through its "Brightfields"
The Hawaiian Electric Company and the University of Hawaii's
Hawaii Natural Energy Institute announced in May 2002 a partnership with the Electric
Power Research Institute (EPRI) and its affiliate, the Electricity Innovation
Institute, to develop clean energy technologies. The partnership will focus on
emerging renewable, energy-efficient, and environmentally sensitive energy applications,
including distributed generation, on-site, central station, and transportation
In Houston -- a city that has more than its share of both heat
and ozone -- a non-profit group is now developing a plan to reduce the city's
heat island effect. Dark roofs, asphalt, concrete, and other materials inadvertently
work together to make the cities function as giant solar collectors. The resulting
"heat island" effect can boost urban temperatures by 5 to 9 degrees
Fahrenheit, driving up the use of air conditioners, increasing ozone levels, and
exacerbating health problems.The Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) has received
a grant to develop a"Cooler Houston Implementation Plan," which is likely
to include tree planting projects as well as incentives for roofers and pavers
to use heat-reflecting materials. Learn
In California, where severe energy shortages occured during
summer 2000, Governor Gray Davis announced plans for continued energy conservation
during summer 2002. The governor's plan includes a continuation of the state's
"Flex Your Power" media campaign, as well as a new program with 1,100
retailers to promote energy-efficient lighting, appliances, and equipment. The
state also plans to help agricultural users install energy-efficient pumps for
irrigation and other uses. Read
New building energy codes for commercial buildings went into
effect in Seattle, Washington, in February 2002. The new codes exceed national
energy efficiency standards by nearly 20 percent. Although revisions were only
made to the equipment requirements for commercial buildings (for instance, the
heating and ventilating systems), a much broader revision of the energy codes
for residential buildings will go into effect in July 2002. That revision -- the
most significant since 1991 -- mandates high-efficiency windows as well as insulation
R-values ranging from 21 in the walls to 38 in the ceilings. Learn
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced in March
2002 that 729 buildings throughout the United States have earned the EPA/DOE Energy
Star rating. These office and school buildings use about 40 percent less energy
than average U.S. buildings. The EPA estimates that the buildings have saved $134
million in energy costs since 1999, avoiding the emission of 1.9 billion pounds
of carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas. Among the Energy Star buildings are
122 owned and occupied by large commercial institutions, 204 owned by commercial
real estate organizations and leased to commercial tenants, 287 public schools
and 116 federal government facilities. See
the entire list of buildings.
EPA's latest Energy Star product is a
rating system for hotels. Hotels can use Energy Star tools to benchmark their
performance on a scale from 1 to 100. Top-performing hotels can earn the Energy
Star label. In its announcement, the EPA named the Courtyard Indianapolis Capital,
owned by White Lodging Services Corp., and the Sheraton Boston Hotel, owned by
Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, as the first two hotels to earn the label.
California's Consumer Power and Conservation Financing Authority released its
energy resource investment plan in February 2002. Based on a number of gaps in
the state's electricity supply -- including inadequate reserves of electrical
capacity, an inadequate diversity of fuels to provide the state's power, and a
lack of power choices for the state's consumers -- the power authority proposes
a "cost-effective energy resource investment strategy" based on "an
aggressive investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy resources."
The power authority proposes to provide 3,500 megawatts of reserve electrical
capacity by 2006 through investments in energy efficiency, electrical load management,
clean forms of distributed generation, and renewable energy. By issuing bonds
for up to $5 billion, the authority plans to finance a variety of projects, including
1,275 megawatts of new generating capacity powered by renewable energy. Read
In February 2002, DOE released the first of seven volumes of
design guidelines for energy-efficient schools, providing the detailed information
needed for schools to save millions of dollars in energy costs. The new design
guidelines cover a wide range of technologies for schools in hot and dry climates,
and also include numerous case studies. The remaining six volumes will cover the
other U.S. climate zones and will be released by summer 2002. DOE aims to help
school districts achieve energy savings as they renovate old schools or build
new ones -- U.S. school districts are expected to spend $79 billion on such projects
over the next three years. Learn
The design guidelines are a product of EnergySmart Schools, a
part of DOE's Rebuild America Program. For more information, see the EnergySmart
Schools Web site, which includes a link to the new design guidelines,
on DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).
The New York
State Energy Research and Development Authority NYSERDA is administering the $6
Energy Strategies in School program, which provides cost-shared technical
assistance, analysis, advice, and certified training to schools so that they can
identify ways to save energy.
In Illinois, elementary
and high schools in 24 counties have received $3.5 million in grants for
energy-efficient lighting upgrades. The grants from the Illinois Clean Energy
Community Foundation will go to 141 schools, constituting one of the largest contributions
from a private source to Illinois schools in 2002. The project is expected to
reduce electricity demand by more than 6,000 kilowatts when completed by the summer
In Massachusetts, state officials announced in February 2002 week
that they have awarded $776,900 to seven school districts throughout the state
to fund the design of energy- and resource-efficient projects in new and renovated
schools. Renewable and energy efficient technologies, including fuel cells, wind,
solar, geothermal and biomass, will be incorporated into the school design and
renovations throughout the seven districts. Read
Salt Lake City has pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions
to 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. To help meet that goal, the city will
establish a scientific, detailed tracking of its greenhouse gas emissions. Through
the city's "Salt Lake City Green" program, the city plans to cut emissions
by encouraging the construction of "high performance" energy-efficient
buildings while promoting alternative fuel vehicles, electricity conservation,
and other measures. Read
Energy Initiative is part of the federal Rebuild
America program. The community-based program aims to address energy and
water management needs in Boston by helping identify candidate properties, analyze
specific options for conservation improvements, and plan energy-related investments.
Building Design Assistance Center
(BDAC) at the Florida Solar Energy
Center (FSEC) promotes energy-efficient building design in Florida. BDAC
provides the architectural and engineering community with free design assistance
through plan reviews, building energy simulations, development of construction
details, and assists with selection of appropriate materials and equipment. BDAC
also conducts extensive laboratory and field tests to measure the effectiveness
of new and existing products designed to improve energy efficiency. BDAC’s Web
site includes a large list of publications related to energy efficiency in buildings.
DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and
Renewable Energy (EERE) provides links to many
buildings-related resources that can help your community design a community
Building in Billings, Montana, is a historic building that, after being
vacant and closed for two decades, will reopen in 2004 as an apartment building.
The renovation of the building was directed by homeWORD, a local nonprofit who
purchased the building several years ago and financed the renovation through loans
and city help, as well as tax credits. The building houses 19 new apartments for
lower income tenants, is partially built with recycled materials, incorporates
energy efficiency techniques, and is powered by the largest solar array in the
Energy Management Program
Describes a program in Albany, New
York, in which the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH) and a private-sector
energy management company formed a partnership in response to a gubernatorial
directive that state agencies reduce energy consumption by 20 percent. The program
has been transferred to all 33 OMH facilities and cumulative energy savings have
exceeded 16.3 trillion BTUs.
Nicknamed "One Percent for Energy," this program
imposes a fee of one percent on all city government energy bills to finance an
energy management program for city facilities. The energy efficiency projects
completed under the program will save more than $700,000 each year.
of San Diego Police Department Headquarters
The City of San Diego
announced in March 2003 a $3.6 million energy efficiency project at its police
headquarters building. The project will incorporate both energy efficiency and
renewable energy measures.
The City of Ashland, Oregon, Energy Conservation
Division, operates a series of energy conservation programs for both the residential
and commercial sectors. For example, the Energy
Smart Design Program provides free energy efficiency design assistance
and financial incentives for major commercial remodeling projects. The Residential
Energy Conservation Programs help make homes more efficient though weatherization
24 home builders were recognized in early 2005 at the
International Builder's Show for their efforts to make homes more energy-efficient.
The Energy Value Housing Awards went to builders in ten states: Arizona, California,
Colorado, Florida, Idaho, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and
View Estates, in Clear Lake, California, is a new (2004) 90-home community
that features energy-efficient, solar homes, each with a 2.5-kilowatt solar power
system. The modular homes are highly insulated and include low-emissivity windows
and Energy Star appliances. The homes are also "affordable" by California
standards: only $230,000 each, with the added advantage of low utility bills.
Typical utility bills in the area are $150 to $400 per month, but the unique combination
of solar and energy efficiency are expected to reduce utility bills by as much
as 75 percent.
County (Mississippi) School District
Twenty schools will save an estimated
$390,000 in energy costs each year, thanks to energy efficiency improvements completed
by Chevron Energy Solutions. The improvements included lighting retrofits throughout
the Harrison County School District, as well as water conservation retrofits,
the installation of digital thermostats in classrooms and a centralized energy
management system, and the use of a Web-based information system for remote energy
monitoring at each of the 20 schools. The improvements also included new heating,
ventilation, and air conditioning systems at two schools, plus the installation
of two new boilers. The Harrison County School District will pay only $2.4 million
of the total project cost of $6.4 million, with future energy savings paying the
remainder through a financing structure known as an energy savings performance
energy-efficient model homesthe "New American Home" and
the "2004 NextGen Demonstration Home"are being showcased in January
2004 at the International Builders Show, underway at the Las Vegas Convention
Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Coalition on Energy
Explains a nonprofit organization that
is helping some 4,200 churches and religious institutions in Pennsylvania cut
their collective energy bills by more than $1 million.
City Energy Efficiency Partnership
Profiles a public- and private-sector
partnership in Kansas City, Missouri, designed to reduce energy consumption in
metropolitan-area government and nonprofit buildings by 25 percent.
Development -- San Diego, California
A large San Diego homebuilder
has joined forces with Altair Energy to bring PV systems to hundreds of residential
customers in California. Some 400 PV systems are expected to be installed by the
end of 2004.
Model Homes -- Gainesville, Florida
Eight model homes in Florida are
just the start of a ground-breaking sustainable community. CARB, part of the U.S.
Department of Energys Building America program, has teamed up with the Florida
Energy Extension Service (FEES) at the University of Florida to help design and
develop the first homes in the energy- and resource-efficient 88-home Madera community.
As part of the project, CARB performed a systems engineering analysis and prepared
specification recommendations, based on the FEES cottage-style plan.
Resources Defense Council
The new building, which could be the greenest
building in the country, reduces electricity consumption 60 to 75 percent by maximizing
natural light and using efficient fixtures and appliances, task lighting, dimmable
electronic ballasts, occupancy sensors, and extra insulation. Its air-conditioning
system uses "displacement ventilation," in which cool air is supplied
at floor level to displace the hot air, which rises to the ceiling and is extracted
from the building. The building also meets 20 percent of its electricity needs
through rooftop solar cells. It is being considered by the U.S. Green Building
Council for a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Version 2 Platinum
green building rating -- the highest possible level of sustainable design -- and
may become the first structure in the United States to achieve this status.
Inc. and the Oregon Office of Energy announced in June 2002 a partnership
that will direct $1 million of Nike's Oregon income tax liability into the Oregon
Office of Energy's Business Energy Tax Credit pass-through program. The money
will help fund energy conservation projects at eligible public schools across
The Regional Planning Commission in Chittendon County, Vermont,
has implemented a several programs that address sustainability. Its Outdoor
Lighting Program has selected three communities for which outdoor-lighting
standards are being developed. The program, which will reduce energy consumption--and
save some $325,000 each year--improve lighting design, and preserve the night
landscape, has caught the interest of other communities across the state. The
program also educates communities, government, and planners in energy-efficient
A California program that encourages the design and construction
of high-performance commercial buildings. The program offers design assistance
and owner and design team incentives for commercial buildings located in the service
areas of the Pacific Gas and Electric Company, the San Diego Gas and Electric
Company, Southern California Edison, and the Southern California Gas Company.
Paul Energy Conservation Project
Profiles the projects and
benefits resulting from a partnership between the City of St. Paul, Minnesota,
and Northern States Power Company to upgrade City buildings and conserve energy.
Report Card for Schools-- Orange County, Florida
The public schools
in Florida's Orange County are the first in the nation to try a new on-line energy
monitoring system that tracks, evaluates, and charts energy use in the schools.
The Utility Report Card system helps school districts to monitor energy used by
individual schools during everyday activities, allowing districts to implement
operation and maintenance changes to reduce consumption. Teachers and students
can also examine on-line data to learn more about smart energy use and efficiency
as a complement to DOE's EnergySmart Schools education program.
Describes a partnership between the private
sector and state government in Madison, Wisconsin, developed as a result of a
gubernatorial directive that energy consumption in State buildings be reduced
by 15 percent. Three years after the project's inception, Wisconsin's state buildings
consume 21 percent less energy than they did in 1973, even though state facilities'
square footage has increased by 27 percent.
Articles and Publications
The Centre for the Analysis and Dissemination
of Demonstrated Energy Technologies (CADDET) offers many publications,
including analysis reports, technical brochures, and workshop proceedings focusing
on energy efficiency in the buildings sector.
Savings Estimate of Light Emitting Diodes in Niche Lighting Applications
Savings Potential of Solid State Lighting in General Illumination Applications
Two reports that conclude that the U.S. is already achieving significant energy
savings from LED technology, and the promise for the future is bright. The DOE-funded
reports, prepared by Navigant Consulting, conclude that LEDs have already saved
more than 8 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in the United States. If LED
manufacturers achieve their cost and performance goals, the technology will cut
future use of energy for lighting by 30 percent. LEDs have already made significant
headway in traffic lights, exit signs, and taillights. The report finds that with
accelerated investment in the technology, it could achieve energy savings by 2025
that would be equal to the power produced by 40 large power plants.
Monthly magazine covering all areas of building management
related to energy-intensive building systems, as well as fuel and power acquisition.
School Boards Association Endorses Department of Energy Schools Program
A press release explaining that the Board of Directors of the National School
Boards Association (NSBA) unanimously endorsed DOE's EnergySmart Schools program.
DOE is the first federal agency to receive an endorsement from the association.
A publication of DOE's Rebuild America project. To access, click on Partner Update
at the above link.
the Art of Energy Efficiency: Future Directions, American Council for
an Energy-Efficient Economy.
Provides a useful and practical compilation of
the state-of-the-art in energy efficiency technologies and programs, resource
planning and policy making, and data collection and analysis methodologies. Several
chapters specifically address buildings-related technologies and programs. Available
from: American Council for an Energy-Efficient
Economy, 2140 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94704. Phone: (415) 549-9914.
ACEEE also has a variety of other publications related to energy efficiency in
buildings, including Proceedings available from its biennial Summer Study on Energy
Efficiency in Buildings conference.
Slash Energy Costs describes various efforts of retail enterprises to
reduce enery costs through lighting changes, energy management systems, and the
addition of solar power. From Building Operating Management, July 2003.
Sustainable Building Technical
Manual: Green Building Design, Construction, and Operations
Provides the building industry with suggested practices for the entire building
process—from site planning to building design, construction, and operation. Much
of the material in this manual focuses on efficient use of energy.
updated: January 19, 2005