New Buildings Institute Blog

NIBS Releases Data Needs Report

Increasingly over the last several years, members of the building industry have expressed the need for both broader and more targeted benchmark data on high-performance buildings.  The Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS) has long served as the major source of information on the energy use of the nation’s existing building stock. Its suspension last spring posed obvious challenges for data users in the building industry who gathered at a July hearing to discuss solutions. Read more »

Stretch codes at work in Massachusetts

Last week, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick announced that more than 100 municipalities have adopted the state’s stretch code designed to reduce energy use by 30 percent and cut carbon emissions by 40 percent. This milestone comes just two and half years after the first-of-its-kind stretch code was introduced and just weeks after Massachusetts was ranked first in the nation for its energy efficiency policies and programs by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). Read more »

Proving Performance in the IgCC

Dave Hewitt's picture

Will the IgCC allow for higher innovation in building design? An outcome-based compliance path would pave the way for use of advanced strategies. Local code officials will once again find themselves at the nexus of something historic when they come together in Phoenix this week to consider and vote on the first-ever model green code, the International Green Construction Code (IgCC). Read more »

Tackling 71.6 Billion Square Feet

NBI recently hosted the 2011 Deep Savings in Existing Buildings Summit, gathering more than 80 innovative thinkers on energy savings and the built environment. Held in Boulder, Colorado, the three-day event was organized as part of NBI’s ongoing work to facilitate wide adoption of deep energy savings across existing U.S. commercial building stock—roughly 71.6 billion square feet of space.

The Work Read more »

Sources of Inspiration in the Search for Deep Energy Savings

It’s been said that the greenest building is the one already standing.  There’s a lot of truth in that when you consider the embodied energy of building materials and, with luck, a cultivated sense of place.  At least in the case of historic structures, there may be inherent, environmentally sensitive attributes—and that says nothing of the quality and provenance of historic materials. While many existing buildings may not perform at the level we’d like to see in terms of energy efficiency, many have the potential to do so. Read more »

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.

The meeting gathered design and construction professionals, utility representatives, energy efficiency and green building advocates, policymakers and regulatory agencies to begin the process of answering these questions and developing strategies for overcoming the challenges to developing outcome-based energy codes and policies.  A detailed pathway document is currently under development; initial key takeaways from the meeting include: Read more »