New Buildings Institute Blog

Initiating Energy Transparency

Trying to improve energy efficiency in the building sector without readily available energy data is a little like trying to lose weight when you don’t have a scale. Fortunately, the building industry stands to gain by a trend in transparency in energy data, including the Obama Administration’s recently-announced Energy Data Initiative (EDI). Read more »

Daylighting Done Right

Mark Lyles's picture

Incorporating natural light into building design has become an increasingly popular strategy that is dramatically improving energy performance and occupant satisfaction. Read more »

Reflections on Living Future 2012

So often we go to conferences, learn a few new things, feel inspired (or not), and return to work a little behind on our to-do lists. Living Future 2012, attended by a handful of us at NBI, was an exception. The purpose of the conference was to inspire, yes, but also to serve as a critical reminder of the need to act now for the future. Read more »

Rooftop Unit (RTU) Retrofits = Big Savings for Owners and Tenants

We already know that the efficiency potential for rooftop units (RTUs) is huge. They sit atop about half of the commercial floor space across the United States and since they're often neglected, less than optimal performance leaves building owners and tenants with higher than necessary utility bills. Now, new research by the Pacific Northwest National Lab (PNNL) quantifies that potential estimating energy savings between 28 and 67 percent. Read more »

Gen 2030: Working for the Next Generation

Cathy Higgins's picture

In the first quarter of 2012 NBI staff welcomed three new babies – all boys.  The obvious puns followed: New Boys Institute, New Babies Inevitable. Late last year the connection of these new lives joining us in 2012 occurred to me – particularly in light of the fact that my only child, a daughter, had turned 18 and left for university.  These new babies will turn 18 in 2030 – the target year for efforts and initiatives toward a reduction in carbon and an improvement in the course toward damaging climate change. Read more »

ULI/Greenprint Partnership Brings Key Players (and Dialogue) to the Table

“33% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions are from the built environment.” That’s just one of the statements that regularly headlines the home page of the Greenprint Foundation. Read more »

The Best (Re)Invesment: Big Payoffs with Green Retrofits

It takes money to make money. The expression certainly applies to green retrofits: throw some cash at upgrading your 20+ year-old HVAC system and you’re likely to see the reduction in utility bills pay for the first costs and more before too long. You might call it an investment. Read more »

Solutions for the Plug Load Challenge

Often it’s not how we design buildings that impacts actual energy performance but what we, the occupants, do in those buildings that counts. It’s becoming increasingly clear that occupancy factors, such as behavior, have a significant impact on a building’s energy savings potential. One of these occupancy or “behavioral” factors is plug loads: the amount of energy used by devices that are plugged into wall outlets. Plug loads are one of the largest and fastest growing electric end-uses in commercial buildings in the United States. Read more »

Energy Efficiency in 2012: Forecast Is Mostly Sunny

Looking forward into 2012, I see more reasons for optimism than pessimism. Many states and utilities are committed to ramping up their energy efficiency programs this year and even more are considering similar steps. For example, Massachusetts electric utility programs are targeting 2.4% savings this year as part of a ramp-up rate originally established a few years ago. Many other states also have ramp-ups planned, although not as aggressive as Massachusetts. Read more »

The 12 Themes of Retrofit

Cathy Higgins's picture

In these final days of 2011, a report of our September Summit on Deep Energy Retrofits (DERs) is on my holiday list of things to wrap into a colorful package with ribbons of logic and bows that compel change. The very name ‘Retrofit’ denotes change – change for the better through improvements, upgrades and modifications.  This season of appreciation for what is, and hope for what may be, is a natural time to think about the efforts and inspirations needed to change building’s energy use. Read more »