New Buildings Institute Blog

Selling the Savings: Deep Energy Retrofits

Despite growing awareness of the need to become radically more energy efficient, the small to mid-sized commercial real estate market has been slow to implement energy efficiency retrofits. This sector represents a majority of the existing commercial building stock and a huge potential for meeting climate and energy policy goals, utility efficiency targets and real estate objectives. Read more »

Next Step After CBECS: Defining the Path Forward

As reported in our June 14 post, the 2011 Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS) was suspended following Congressionally-mandated budget cuts to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). CBECS has been the nation's only source of statistical data on energy use and related characteristics of commercial buildings, and its disruption creates a dearth of credible data on building energy use and poses serious challenges for the green building and energy sectors. With the failure of the 2007 CBECS, the latest available data is from 2003—nearly a decade old. Read more »

Barriers to Energy Efficiency Financing: The New State of Things

As the idiom says, “money talks.”  This is still true at a time when energy efficiency has been shown to have a strong, if sometimes lengthy, return on investment. Regardless, it’s no surprise that first cost financing challenges continue to be a key market barrier in the widespread implementation of energy efficiency projects. Unlike the renewable energy industry, which has been successful in communicating the value—both economically and environmentally—to elected officials and financial institutions, the energy efficiency sector has had a harder time making the case. Read more »

No more CBECS…Now what?

In April’s budget compromise, Congress cut the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) FY 2011 funding by 14 percent. That equates to a roughly $15.2 million reduction, forcing “adjustments” to many of EIA’s energy data, analysis and forecasting programs. Programs that guide an energy market worth more than $1 trillion. Read more »

A Pathway for Outcome-Based Codes

In April, over 60 experts in energy code development and high performance commercial building met in Washington D.C. to discuss the future of outcome-based energy codes, a relatively new concept focusing on how buildings actually perform from an energy perspective, rather than on the feature sets of installed equipment and components. Outcome-based codes and accompanying policies would establish an energy performance target for each building and measure its performance after occupancy to assure expectations are being met. Read more »

A Chance Encounter with the Massachusetts Stretch Energy Code

Mark Lyles's picture

On a recent trip to visit friends in rural Western Massachusetts, I stumbled upon an indication of the great effort and success NBI’s code team has had working with that State.  Posted in the front window of the local health food store under the tag line of “Becoming a Green Community” the flyer read: “STRETCH ENERGY CODE – Educational Forum.”
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NBI’s Technical Director Honored with BetterBricks Award

Mark Lyles's picture

Mark Frankel, Technical Director at New Buildings Institute (NBI), was recognized for “Outstanding Industry Contribution” during the BetterBricks Awards breakfast on Friday, February 11th in Portland, Oregon. A licensed architect and experienced project manager and technical consultant, Frankel has spent his career working to improve the energy performance of buildings. Read more »

Historic Change to Building Codes Approved: Now What?

Dave Hewitt's picture

Last October, local government representatives and code officials gathered in Charlotte, North Carolina, for an historic vote on one of our national model energy codes, the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). By approving the package of proposed changes, they ensured that every commercial building located in the jurisdictions that follow the 2012 IECC will use a quarter less energy than those constructed with conventional building practices.
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NBI Encourages Washington State to Maintain Leadership on Energy Codes

Mark Lyles's picture

With all the recent success improving the efficiency of national model energy codes (see 2012 IECC and 90.1 2010), it is easy to lose sight of the fact that codes are adopted and enforced on a state-by-state basis. NBI Executive Director Dave Hewitt and I drove up to Olympia, Wash., earlier this week to encourage legislators to hold on to the state’s leadership position on efficiency in energy codes. Read more »

Not Accepting Poor Performance

Mark Lyles's picture

It's no secret that most commercial buildings perform poorly in terms of energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. The question is, why do we put up with it? As author Auden Schendler puts it in this post for Climate Progress it's because "broken is normal" when it comes to the state of most commercial buildings. As he puts it “almost no buildings mechanical system operate as they’re supposed to. But nobody knows. Nobody checks. Read more »