New Buildings Institute Blog

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 »

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 »

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