Boosting Energy Performance of Industrial Buildings

“Promoting Energy-Efficient Buildings in the Industrial Sector,” a report produced by the Alliance, investigates facility energy performance in multiple industrial subsectors and explores the reduction of energy consumption and carbon emission by industrial buildings. 

Industrial Energy Use: Facility Versus Process

In 2006, the industrial sector accounted for approximately one-third of total energy use in the United States and 28.6 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions.  Typically accounting for a majority of the sector’s energy, industrial processes and cross-cutting systems have attracted the most attention in the search for energy savings.  As a result, the opportunities to save energy with respect to operating industrial facilities – HVAC, lighting and facility use – are often overlooked.

The report’s main highlights show how improving the efficiency of industrial facilities can result in energy and economic savings:

  • Two types of building energy use profiles found in industrial sub-sectors: that of “building energy-intensive” or sectors with high energy-consuming facilities, and “process energy-intensive” or sectors with less energy-consuming facilities
  • Energy-saving opportunities by U.S. region
  • Modeling and evaluation of energy savings potential from industrial buildings
  • Associated CO2 emissions reduction under the scenarios described below.

The report contrasts two scenarios (spanning 2007 to 2016) reflecting different energy-saving options for U.S. industrial plants: (1) a “business-as-usual” (BAU) scenario that assumes the adoption of low-cost HVAC and lighting replacement technologies at a standard rate of turnover according to normal operations and maintenance, and (2) an optimal scenario which assumes the replacement of high-efficiency HVAC and lighting equipment with market-mature, energy-efficient technologies at an accelerated rate of turnover.

Accelerated adoption of high-efficiency HVAC equipment reveals an energy savings potential 174 trillion Btu (TBtu) by 2016 – a 15.5 percent reduction as compared with the BAU scenario.  Substantial savings for lighting (when assuming accelerated adoption) are also demonstrated: 37 TBtu savings by 2016 – a 16 percent energy reduction from the BAU scenario.

The Report’s Recommendations

To conclude, the study recommends several energy-saving opportunities and available strategies for improving energy efficiency levels in high energy-consuming facilities:

  • Voluntary programs at the utility, state and federal levels
  • Utility rebates and tax incentives
  • Demand response technologies and programs 
  • Industrial buildings data
  • Facility energy benchmarking
  • ISO Energy Management Standard
  • New construction of buildings with stronger building energy code provisions
  • Workforce development
  • Equipment efficiency