BOSTON — Commercial buildings in New York City could save hundreds of millions of dollars in annual energy expenses through three efficiency changes. This finding, based on an analysis of more than 30,000 buildings, is part of the Building Genome Project™ — an effort to mine and analyze publicly available building data to gain a deeper understanding of how buildings consume energy and the energy efficiency opportunities they present. New York City was the first major U.S. city analyzed as part of this project.

Conducted by Retroficiency, the Building Genome Project maps the distinct markers that influence how a building consumes energy. These markers, composed of mechanical equipment, construction materials, fuel sources, operational characteristics, and more, make up a building’s unique genome. The project combines publicly available information with analytics to help create unique physics-based energy models of each building using Retroficiency’s Building Efficiency Intelligence (BEI) platform. The energy models estimate how each building consumes energy — on an end-use level, every hour of every day — and make it easier to understand how each building could improve under different energy-saving scenarios.

“Energy efficiency has long been accepted as the most cost-effective way to reduce building energy use, but the opportunity remains largely untapped,” said Bennett Fisher, co-founder and CEO, Retroficiency. “The Building Genome Project demonstrates the power of creating an energy model of every building to identify the efficiency opportunities that currently exist and to accelerate the shift in how the energy industry and policy makers address the world’s energy challenge at scale.”

Analyzing only publicly available building data, the project mapped the genomic characteristics of New York City’s commercial building portfolio to develop physics-based energy models of more than 30,000 buildings.

Using these models, Retroficiency then ran three example energy efficiency scenarios to understand their relative impact on New York City’s commercial building portfolio. Based on these three scenarios alone, commercial buildings in New York City could potentially save almost $400 million in annual energy costs. The project further demonstrates how both small and large efficiency changes and measures can impact energy consumption and drive savings.

The three scenarios selected are not designed to define the best or most important efficiency changes. They’re designed to provide representative guidance on the potential impact of similar changes on the building portfolio. Findings include:

• New York City could save $10 million annually if every building with an oil boiler that uses number 4 or 6 oil replaced it with a natural gas boiler.

• New York City could save $145 million on annual energy costs if every building turned the thermostat up one degree in the summer and down one degree in the winter.

• New York City could save $227 million on annual energy costs if every building with old windows installed new, efficient windows.

The Building Genome Project will continue to analyze major cities across the United States to present scenarios that demonstrate the large energy efficiency opportunities available.

To learn more and access the Building Genome Project report, visit

Publication date: 5/5/2014

Want more HVAC industry news and information? Join The NEWS on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn today!