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Energy Improvement in Commercial Buildings

January 24, 2011
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WASHINGTON - In late November, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced that 24 projects are receiving a total of $21 million in technical assistance to dramatically reduce the energy used in their commercial buildings. This initiative, supported with funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, will connect commercial building owners and operators with multidisciplinary teams including researchers at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Laboratories and private sector building experts. The teams will design, construct, measure, and test low-energy building plans, and will help accelerate the deployment of cost-effective energy-saving measures in commercial buildings across the United States.

“These Recovery Act projects are bringing together experts from our national laboratories and the private sector to help businesses and organizations reduce the energy they use in their facilities, saving them money on their energy bills and making them more competitive economically,” said Secretary Chu. “This initiative will also demonstrate to other commercial building operators that cost-effective, energy-efficient technologies exist today that will help lower the operating and energy costs of their buildings.”

Through DOE’s Commercial Building Partnerships, teams comprised of private sector technical experts and personnel from national laboratories will help guide projects to achieve 30 percent measured energy savings in existing buildings and 50 percent energy savings in new construction projects. About half of the two dozen projects focus on energy efficiency upgrades for existing buildings. The three-year projects will provide comprehensive business and technical case studies for broad publication, including actual energy performance data from the completed projects, to help spur wider adoption of energy-efficient building practices across the industry.

The projects are funded with a public/private cost-sharing agreement, where the building owners and operators contribute at least 20 percent. Building owners and operators do not receive direct funding through the project, but instead get access to state-of-the-art technical guidance to implement energy efficiency technologies throughout the design, construction, and evaluation phases of their building and retrofit projects. This technical expertise includes energy modeling and energy performance verification by laboratory researchers and private sector experts.

The selected building owners and operators benefit by learning about measures they can apply across their extensive building portfolios. The use of private sector consultants and National Laboratory experts helps ensure that the energy efficiency measures and lessons learned in the projects will be quickly adopted by the marketplace.

Three DOE national laboratories - Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) - will manage the effort and provide technical assistance for the selected projects. The aggressive energy efficiency design goals for each project include reasonable returns on investment and must meet other business criteria established in collaboration with the partners.

Each project will receive technical assistance valued at between $200,000 and $1.2 million, depending on the scope and nature of the plan. The following is a list of the selected projects:

• Cascadia Center for Sustainable Design and Construction; The Bullitt Foundation; Seattle

• Center for Alternative, Renewable Energy, Technology and Training; Clark Atlanta University; Atlanta

• The College of Architecture + Planning at the University of Utah; Salt Lake City, Utah

• The Defense Commissary Agency; Lackland Air Force Base; San Antonio, Texas

• Grand Valley State University; Allendale, Mich.

• Hines; Somerset, N.J.

• The Home Depot; Rocklin, Calif.

• Living City Block; Denver

• The LOOP at the University of California; Mesa Lane Partners; Santa Barbara, Calif.

• Long Beach Gas and Oil; Long Beach, Calif.

• Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Cambridge, Mass.

• Oregon Built Environment & Sustainable Technologies Center; Portland, Ore.

• Shy Brothers Farm; Westport, Mass.

• Sierra Nevada Job Corps; Reno, Nev.

• Smart Grid Development; North Kingstown, R.I.

• Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.; Los Angeles

• University of California Merced; Merced, Calif.

• University of South Carolina; Columbia, S.C.

• U.S. Army; Fort Bragg, N.C.

• U.S. General Services Administration; Portsmouth, N.H.

• U.S. General Services Administration; Region 9 locations

• U.S. General Services Administration; San Francisco

• Walmart; two locations to be determined

During the selection process, each building owner or operator submitted plans for designing a new building or upgrading existing buildings and committed to working with national laboratories and technical experts. Project selection criteria included the likelihood of achieving significant energy savings, the probability of success, widespread deployment potential, contribution to a diverse DOE portfolio of energy-saving solutions, and the organizations’ commitment to improving energy efficiency.

Publication date: 01/24/2011

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