What Have You Done For EE Lately? Updates from the Building Technology Office
Buildings in the United States – from family homes to office buildings to grocery stores – account for over 70% of electricity and 40% of total energy consumed annually. That adds up to about $400 billion spent powering our buildings each year.
How can we even begin to reduce those numbers if halting new construction is out of the question? The most obvious solution is greater energy efficiency, and the Department of Energy’s Building Technology Office (BTO) is a major force in this effort. BTO, which functions within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), has been working on a number of projects lately that will play an integral role in reducing building energy use in the United States.
Improving Performance Evaluation for Commercial Building Energy Codes
Alliance Associate, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), has been working with BTO to provide new performance-based compliance options for commercial buildings that will simplify the process of adopting building energy codes. The current system requires separate evaluations for minimum and above-code compliance, but a pending change will allow for a single, performance-based methodology. This will be a simpler, less-expensive and more accurate method that will encourage the development of tools to help code adopters demonstrate compliance.
Home Retrofits Across the Nation
We highlighted the Better Buildings Neighborhood Program (BBNP) last year for providing home upgrades to over 100,000 residences. As of the first quarter of 2015, Better Buildings Residential deployment programs had upgraded over 500,000 homes, including 110,000 through BBNP specifically. The grant period for BBNP has closed out, but over 80% of BBNP grant-funded programs will continue to offer services, indicating that federal investment can spur the market for long lasting energy savings. The participation of 41 grantee partners allowed the BBNP to have such a wide reach and test innovative models to sustain building efficiency upgrades.
These BTO programs are just two examples of how the Office is ensuring the U.S. is at the frontlines of innovation for building efficiency. Considering the impact that buildings have on our nation’s energy resources, it’s important to acknowledge and support the work that is being done to decrease their footprint.