Building Innovation

This mission-critical research, technical analysis, tools and guidance helps those seeking to drive better energy performance outcomes in commercial buildings.

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NBI’s work is built on a foundation of proven building science. Under its Building and Program Innovation efforts, NBI provides direct services and consulting, conducts building science research, technology assessments, and develops building standards and tools. 

NBI also provides training and education on the technical analyses, tools and guidance that demonstrate feasibility of advanced efficiency measures and practices. The resources developed under this program provide critical support for building owners, practitioners, utilities and jurisdictions that want to create or enhance programs that favor ultra-efficiency in commercial buildings.

Our premier guidance includes the New Construction Guide and Multifamily Guide that offer prescriptive measures for achieving high performance in new construction projects with up to 30% better efficiency than traditional construction practices. We also have developed a number of resources, including a Zero Energy Project Guide and Zero Energy Charette Toolkit that helps design teams optimize their process for designing ultra low-energy projects. Our building portfolio diagnostic tool, FirstView, has been used by cities and other portfolio owners across the country to assess and identify underperforming buildings as well as identify renovation projects that are viable to achieve zero energy goals.

The NBI team of architects, engineers, and researchers work to advance approaches by both the energy and building industries to raising levels of efficiency in buildings. NBI’s study on the measured energy performance of LEED buildings was a catalyst for the need to focus on outcome-based performance of buildings rather than relying solely on predictive models. Other research examines the effectiveness and benefits of advanced design practices such as daylighting as well as technology applications including controls, lighting, shading, plug loads, and HVAC systems.

Our training and education program provides practitioners with webinars and resources, often at no cost, to help them better understand the opportunities for improving energy performance in their design and operations. Case studies document projects that serve as models for others to follow.

NewsView All

Advanced Water Heating Initiative August Newsletter

News / August 17, 2021

The Advanced Water Heating InitiativeTM (AWHI) is working to move heat pump water heaters (HPWHs) rapidly into the market. HPWHs are an advanced technology that is highly energy efficient, can be grid-integrated, and delivers significant emissions reductions. Learn more about...

Focused Strategies

There are no codes & policy for Building Innovation. Please see our other codes & policy below.

Model and Base Energy Codes

Codes & Policy / July 16, 2021 / Energy Codes

For more than 20 years, NBI has been working with partners and within the code-making bodies to advance codes at the national, state, and local government levels. National model energy codes and standards like ASHRAE 90.1 and the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) have...

Zero Cities Project

Codes & Policy / February 13, 2019 / Energy Codes

The Zero Cities Project is a three-year project supporting both cities and their most impacted communities* to co-develop and implement actionable and equitable roadmaps and policy strategies to achieve a zero-net-carbon (ZNC) building sector by 2050. Through a community collaboration...

Zero Energy/Carbon Codes

Codes & Policy / October 28, 2018 / Zero Net Energy (ZNE)

Building energy codes are playing an increasing in facilitating the move to ZE buildings. As advances in construction practices and building components and systems are proven out, communities are  strengthening the building codes so that higher levels of building efficiency...

Stretch Codes (Advanced Codes)

Codes & Policy / October 15, 2018 / Energy Codes

New design and process strategies can be demonstrated through a variety of advanced code strategies.  NBI builds market capacity for higher efficiency energy codes by encouraging the use of stretch codes (also referred to as reach codes). To support the...

Washington State Energy Code Roadmap to 2031

Codes & Policy / October 15, 2018 / Energy Codes

Many organizations and jurisdictions have adopted a range of building performance goals over the past decade that have significantly changed the conversation about energy codes and building energy performance.  The primary policy driver for the Washington State Energy Code increases in...

Steps to Achieving Outcome-Based Energy Codes

Codes & Policy / December 22, 2015

Outcome-based energy codes, codes  require that a number of policy, data and administration pieces be put in place.  

Costs of Advanced Efficiency Measures in Commercial Buildings

Codes & Policy / December 22, 2015

NBI has identified the following four studies as a general survey of the cost impact of increasing the level of energy efficiency in commercial new construction and major retrofits. This is not an exhaustive survey of cost material available, but...


Codes & Policy / December 22, 2015

The 2015 International Green Construction Code (IgCC) includes many progressive measures that will improve the energy performance of buildings. One important provision describes the Zero Energy Performance Index (zEPI), which provides a scale for measuring commercial building energy performance. zEPI...

Zero Net Energy Policies

Codes & Policy / December 22, 2015

Policies and programs can dramatically change the landscape for Zero Net Energy (ZNE) buildings. There is burgeoning market interest in ZNE, and policies and programs can foster and grow that interest through leadership, direct support, and the reduction of risks and...

Aligning Utility Programs with Local Codes (Policy)

Codes & Policy / December 22, 2015

Bringing energy codes to market often involves a comprehensive approach that starts years before a code is adopted by a local jurisdiction. NBI provides technical assistance through each stage of code development. NBI aggregates technical information from existing high performance buildings. Observed trends...

Outcome-Based Energy Codes (Advanced Codes)

Codes & Policy / December 21, 2015

Our nation’s current energy codes include structural and enforcement characteristics that limit the ability to achieve significantly more energy savings without major changes. Current energy code strategies consider only a limited number of the factors that impact building energy performance. ...

Model Energy & Green Codes

Codes & Policy / December 19, 2015

NBI works collaboratively with a wide range of industry partners to bring model energy codes up to current market capabilities. Measures promoted by NBI include higher efficiency standards for equipment and advanced design strategies such as daylighting. Once adopted by states...

COMNET (Polcy)

Codes & Policy / December 19, 2015 / Policy

NBI manages the development of COMNET, a quality assurance initiative to standardize building energy modeling, by creating consistent baselines relative to various energy codes and standards. COMNET extends and supports existing systems for assessing and rating the energy efficiency of...

ResearchView All

Bringing Heat Pump Water Heaters into the Mainstream

Report / February 10, 2021

The Advanced Water Heating Initiative (AWHI) Playbook and 2020 Progress Report summarizes the activities of AWHI through the end of 2020. The West Coast AWHI has made tremendous progress in the two years it has been underway. The Initiative includes…

Building Electrification Technology Roadmap

Paper / January 12, 2021

The Building Electrification Technology Roadmap (BETR) is a guide for utilities and other organizations developing, implementing, and supporting electrification technology programs as a way to advance high efficiency technologies, reduce GHG emissions, and improve public health. It’s the first study…

Putting Data to Work: Using Monthly Data From Benchmarking Programs

Report / January 27, 2020

This guide from the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT) provides an overview of the powerful ways in which monthly building consumption data can yield new insights, and how these insights can help cities to design more effective targeted programs.

The GridOptimal Buildings Initiative

Paper / February 8, 2019

The role of buildings, renewable energy, and energy storage in the utility industry is changing. New near-term solutions are needed to address today’s challenges and capitalize on opportunities for market transformation. New Buildings Institute, in partnership with the U.S. Green…

Energy Efficiency Savings Up in Smoke: The Budding Impact of Indoor Agriculture and Cannabis Production

Document / August 27, 2018

This poster was presented by NBI staff at the 2018 ACEEE Summer Study. Indoor horticulture energy usage is projected to grow substantially over the next several years, driven in large part by the legalization of medical and recreational cannabis. How…

Radiant Solutions: Energy Findings from the Largest Study of Commercial Buildings with Radiant Cooling and Heating System

Document / August 27, 2018

This poster about energy efficiency advantages of radiant cooling was presented by NBI staff at the 2018 ACEEE Summer Study. Buildings with radiant cooling have similar comfort and use less energy. Learn more about how with this resource.

Energy Performance of Commercial Buildings with Radiant Heating and Cooling

Report / August 10, 2017 / HVAC

This report is part of the California Energy Commission (CEC) EPIC project (EPIC-14-009), Optimizing Radiant Systems for Energy Efficiency and Comfort. The main goal of this research was to determine the building characteristics of projects with radiant heating and cooling…

High Performance Buildings Measured Performance and Key Performance Indicators

Report / April 24, 2013

This Final Research Summary Report summarizes the findings for the High Performance Buildings Measured Performance and Key Performance Indicators project within the Evidence-based Design and Operation research program.

Evidence-Based Design and Operations PIER Program: Improving the Real World Performance of Commercial Buildings

Report / April 23, 2013

This Final Project Report presents the results of the Evidence-based Design and Operations Research Program led by New Buildings Institute from 2008-2013. The program included four technical projects for commercial buildings. This work included the development of feedback tools for…

Enhanced Skylight Modeling and Validation

Report / April 23, 2013

This report details tasks, findings, and recommendations undertaken for the Enhanced Skylight Modeling and Validation project. The scope involved developing and validating computer simulation alternatives to physical measurements for producing optical daylighting system photometry.

Plug Loads

Report / March 24, 2013

Plug loads are among the biggest energy end uses in commercial office buildings. This is in part because plug loads are growing with greater information technology power demand and also because design approaches, codes and efficiency programs typically address other…

Key Performance Indicators – Field Metering Study and Energy Performance Feedback

Report / July 23, 2012

This report describes an investigation by NBI of metered key performance indicators (KPI) for commercial building energy use.

A Search for Deep Energy Savings

Report / August 23, 2011

A report from NEEA's BetterBricks program and New Buildings Institute investigates* 11 energy retrofits in existing commercial buildings that, on average, resulted in energy use 50% less than the national average – many with an energy use intensity (EUI) below…

Sensitivity Analysis: Comparing the Impact of Design, Operation, and Tenant Behavior on Building Energy Performance

Report / July 27, 2011

This study compares the magnitude of energy impact that various design features, operations and tenant behaviors have on total building energy use. The findings of this study can help the building community begin to align their priorities with those building…

Using Measured Whole-Building Performance for Green Building Program Evaluation

Paper / December 28, 2010

Green building program energy efficiency strategies often use integrated design, precluding the measurement of results simply from deemed savings of specific measures. This paper describes the use of whole-building measured energy use, by month and fuel, to evaluate the achievements…

Energy Performance of LEED for New Construction Buildings

Report / February 17, 2010

NBI has completed the broadest study to-date of measured energy performance of LEED buildings called “Energy Performance of LEED for New Construction Buildings.” Aimed at better quantifying the actual energy performance levels of green building, the study gathered whole building…

Daylight and Retail Sales

Report / October 21, 2003

This study presents evidence that a chain retailer is experiencing higher sales in daylit stores than in similar non-daylit stores.

Windows and Offices: A Study of Office Worker Performance and the Indoor Environment

Report / October 21, 2003

This study reports on a statistical investigation into the influences indoor physical environment has on office worker performance, especially daylight and view, and secondarily ventilation and thermal comfort.

Windows and Classrooms: A Study of Student Performance and the Indoor Environment

Report / October 21, 2003

This study investigates whether daylight and other aspects of the indoor environment in elementary school student classrooms have an effect on student learning, as measured by their improvement on standardized math and reading tests over an academic year.


There are no events for Building Innovation. Please see our other events below.

2021 Getting to Zero Forum

Event / October 27, 2021 - October 29, 2021

The Getting to Zero Forum is the premier event dedicated to zero energy and zero carbon buildings. It brings together the world’s leading experts in creating the market-based solutions that are driving a growing movement to define the future of…

21st Century Schools: Cleaner and Greener Part I

Event / November 10, 2021 @ 9:00 am - 10:30 am PST

21st Century Schools: Cleaner and Greener Part II

Event / December 8, 2021 @ 9:00 am - 10:30 am PST

21st Century Schools: Cleaner and Greener Part III

Event / January 12, 2022 @ 9:00 am - 10:30 am PST

Partner Event: 2022 ASHRAE Winter Conference

Event / January 29, 2022 - February 2, 2022

The 2022 ASHRAE Winter Conference will be a hybrid experience, offering both in-person and virtual options for participation for attendees. The conference will feature over 80 technical sessions with updates from Society leaders, tours, social events and livestreamed sessions for…

NewsView All

Advanced Water Heating Initiative August Newsletter

News / August 17, 2021

The Advanced Water Heating InitiativeTM (AWHI) is working to move heat pump water heaters (HPWHs) rapidly into the market. HPWHs are an advanced technology that is highly energy efficient, can be grid-integrated, and delivers significant emissions reductions. Learn more about...

Video: How Air Conditioning is Warming the World

News / July 27, 2021

Published by CNBC: Summer 2021 is shaping up to be one of the hottest in history, as the effects of climate change are becoming ever clearer. Naturally, that’s led to an increase in global demand for air conditioning, which itself...

How all-electric design achieves energy efficiency

News / June 30, 2021

Published by Consulting-Specifying Engineer: The electrification of new buildings is a practical and impactful solution to address carbon emissions in the building sector. Predicated on the “greening of the grid,” all-electric building design yields the promise of a carbon-neutral operation....

The Whitehouse Turns Green with New Building Efficiency Policies

News / June 24, 2021

Published by memoori: The US has always been a leader in the development of renewable energy and energy efficiency technology but has lagged behind in the decarbonization of its own economy. Now, after laying roadmaps for a green revolution of...

NBI Study Sheds Light On Ways Existing Buildings Can Reduce Energy Costs

News / June 11, 2021

Forbes puts the spotlight on NBI-led study: High-quality automated shading slashes lighting energy use, while at the same time enhancing occupant comfort. Modern LED lighting with advanced controls also greatly cuts lighting energy use, and offers superior results. These are...

Getting Control of Comfort and Energy: The Benefits of Upgrading to Automated Shades and Advanced Lighting in Commercial Buildings

News / June 10, 2021

Published by Lighting Design and Specification: Interior lighting and window shading innovations have advanced leaps and bounds in the past two decades. Each innovation offers benefits to existing buildings, ranging from improved occupant comfort and wellbeing to significant energy savings....

Video: White House Social Media Briefing with Jen Psaki

News / June 8, 2021

Published by the White House: Watch as the Property Brothers, Drew and Jonathan Scott, sit down with White House Press Secretary, Jen Psaki. In the video, Jonathan Scott expresses the interest of his audience to save money on energy bills...

Integrating LLLC Technology with Building Systems

News / May 26, 2021

Published by EC&M: Luminaire level lighting controls (LLLC) technology enables greater control over a building’s lighting system, all the way down to the individual fixture level, resulting in optimized lighting for the space. One of the most promising features of...

DOE Announces Support for Program on Advanced Water Heating to Cut Carbon Emissions

News / May 26, 2021

Published by Renewable Energy Magazine: The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced its support of a new nationwide campaign to drastically cut carbon emissions and energy use from heating water with advanced heat pump technology. The Advanced Water Heating Initiative...

Biden administration to announce new Energy Star standards, develop emissions targets for federal buildings

News / May 17, 2021

Published by Washington Post: On Monday afternoon, the Biden administration will announce a major push aimed at cutting carbon emissions from federal buildings and homes by setting new efficiency standards and investing in innovative research. The White House says that,...

New Report Highlights Activities of Advanced Water Heating Initiative

News / April 7, 2021

Published by HVAC & Plumbing Product News: The recently released Advanced Water Heating Initiative Playbook and 2020 Progress Report by NBI summarizes the activities of AWHI through the end of 2020. The West Coast AWHI has made tremendous progress on...

Building Decarbonization

News / March 2, 2021

Published by Impact Cafe: In this Impact Café webinar and podcast the focus is on the transition to net zero carbon energy networks and the decarbonization of buildings. Amy Cortese, Director of Programs, participated in this panel discussion.

How Your Water Heater Can Be a Secret Weapon in the Climate Change Fight

News / February 11, 2021

Published by Bloomberg News: Nearly every home has a water heater, but people tend not to think about it until the shock of a cold shower signals its failure. To regulators, though, the ubiquitous household appliance is increasingly top of...

New Building Electrification Technology Roadmap Shows Pathways to Achieve Zero Carbon

News / February 2, 2021

A first-of-its-kind study from New Buildings Institute provides a comprehensive analysis of electric technologies that can displace fossil fuels in buildings.  Energy use in California’s buildings is a leading source of climate-changing emissions. Homes and commercial buildings must be electrified...

Get ready for grid-integrated buildings

News / January 5, 2021

Published by The Keneda Fund: Imagine an energy system in which each building serves as an extension of the power grid. When all buildings were simply at the receiving end of electricity generated by a few big power plants, that...

Decarbonizing the Built Environment

News / December 4, 2020

Decarbonizing the Built Environment, is a new brief and online event from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). NBI Program Director, Amy Cortese was part of the conversation that informed this piece. She discussed the domestic environment for...

Getting Building Height Right for the Climate

News / November 30, 2020

Published by GTM: Skyscrapers use and lose more energy than low-rise buildings, research shows. Can smarter design and technology change that? It may seem obvious that cities filled with big buildings use energy more efficiently than dispersed suburban landscapes, and...

Cutting Carbon Emissions Through Electrification

News / November 17, 2020

Published by Commercial Property Executive: A new report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy finds that energy-efficient electric heat pumps cut commercial buildings’ greenhouse emissions by 44 percent. Sean Denniston, senior project manager at the New Buildings Institute,...

New Awards Program Spotlights All-Electric Building Innovation in San Mateo County

News / November 5, 2020

Peninsula Clean Energy and New Buildings Institute have launched a new awards program spotlighting all-electric building innovation across San Mateo County. The All-Electric Leadership Awards and Directory invites designers, builders, developers and owners of all-electric, high performance residential and commercial...

Fighting Climate Change, One Building At A Time

News / October 18, 2020

Published by NPR: When Donnel Baird was in his 20s, he had twin passions, and he didn’t want to choose between them. “I vowed that I was going to try to combine my passion for Black civil rights with trying...

Designing Low-to-Mid-Rise Multifamily Residential Buildings

News / August 25, 2020

Published by ASHRAE Journal Newsletter: Multifamily buildings are often built like commercial buildings and used as residential buildings, making them challenging to design. There is research that explores codes, standards and best practices to help designers and practitioners achieve high...

NBI Study Keys in on Optimizing Automated Shading

News / July 29, 2020

Published in Architectural Products on page 46: Identifying automated shading as a key component in achieving net-zero retrofits for existing buildings, the California Energy Commission has commissioned New Buildings Insitute (NBI) to retrofit two Southern California offices with automated shading...

Five Ways To Begin Energy Benchmarking

News / April 23, 2020 / Measured Results

Published by Facility Executive Magazine: You may think your building operations reflect a green building approach, but how do you know what is happening on a month to month basis? Energy benchmarking is the ongoing monthly review of energy performance...

Innovations in Energy-Efficient Apartments

News / September 28, 2019

Published by MHN: Faced with the urgency of reducing carbon footprints and greenhouse gases, multifamily operators are embarking on a new era of energy efficiency. No one-size-fits-all approach exists; strategies vary widely by location and multifamily category. Whether the community...

EV Stations Spark Broad-Based Change

News / September 19, 2019

Published by Commercial Property Executive: As EVs continue to grow in popularity, the need for electric charging stations is also growing and commercial real estate owners and managers are helping lead the charge to make them available. While some states...

The California Roadmap to a Carbon Free Future for the Built Environment

News / May 8, 2019

Published by Meeting of the Minds: Participants of COP21 (Paris, 2015) agreed that limiting the average global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius was an absolute imperative, and that this goal would require that human-produced emissions peak in 2020 and...

GridOptimal Initiative Changes Power Grid Interaction

News / April 12, 2019

Published by BUILDINGS: GridOptimal, a new initiative by the New Buildings Institute and the U.S. Green Building Council, aims to help buildings become better “grid citizens” by improving communications between the built environment and the power grid. A good grid...

13 HVAC Money-Saving Products for 2019

News / April 4, 2019

Published by BUILDINGS: No matter what side of the country your building sits, facilities professionals seek out solutions for HVAC systems. This is why the HVAC category of BUILDINGS’ Money-Saving Products annual program receives so many submissions. 2019 is no...

Online Tool Helps Cities Frame Energy Performance Goals

News / March 14, 2019

Published by Facility Executive: The National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) and New Buildings Institute (NBI) have developed a new tool, with support from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, to help jurisdictions tackle energy...

“GridOptimal” Buildings Can Smooth Transition to Renewables

News / November 5, 2018

Published by BuildingGreen: Getting a solar array on your project might seem like a huge triumph, but there could be a downside. Too much “distributed generation” (grid-connected power generation coming from individual buildings) can disrupt how the electrical grid works,...

Radiating Efficiency

News / November 4, 2018

Published by Net Zero Buildings (page 12): Because of the drive for optimized energy efficiency, design teams need to look at alternative HVAC methods in order to meet energy goals. A recent NBI report on radiant heating and cooling in...

Show Me the Money: The Business Opportunity of Grid-Interactive Buildings

News / July 25, 2018

Published by GreenBiz: Utilities, grid operators, homeowners, and private- and public-sector building owners and operators are all buzzing about buildings that dynamically interact with the electric grid. They present an exciting opportunity to go beyond net-zero energy and provide valuable...

NBI Unveils New Multifamily Energy Guide

News / October 30, 2017

Published in EC&M: Multifamily buildings offer a largely untapped opportunity for improving energy efficiency, according to a recent report from the New Buildings Institute (NBI). Despite tremendous potential for savings, the organization explains why the multifamily market is hard to...

Department of Energy helps Missoula hone in on carbon-cutting goals

News / June 14, 2017

Technical support offered by the U.S. Department of Energy and several other organizations could help the city of Missoula achieve the goals of its climate plan, becoming carbon neutral by its self-imposed deadline of 2025. NBI as part of a...

Smartglass International’s retrofit project with SPD-SmartGlass will protect priceless paintings at the University of Edinburgh and increases energy efficiency in buildings

News / September 23, 2016

Research Frontiers licensee Smartglass International addresses the long term savings that commercial organizations can realize when they install SPD-SmartGlass in their buildings. From 2016-2023, it is estimated that $960 billion will be invested to make existing buildings more environmentally friendly....

Driving Energy Efficiency in Small- and Medium-Size Buildings

News / August 10, 2016 / Existing Buildings

Given the number of small and medium commercial buildings, there is urgency to increase energy efficiency in this sector. Luckily, advancing technology promises to help these buildings enjoy the savings that a retrofit can attain.

The Retrofit Savings Estimator

News / October 6, 2015

Building owners considering an energy-efficiency upgrade now have a new tool to help them weigh their options and choose strategies that will optimize energy savings or target the biggest opportunities among a portfolio of buildings. NBI has released a beta...

Danfoss’ Galyen: Incentives Will Boost Building Technology Development

News / September 24, 2015

On September 17, John Galyen, president, Danfoss North America, addressed the importance of taking a holistic approach to improving the efficiency of the U.S. commercial building stock as part of a broad objective to double energy productivity. Galyen was joined...

These Small Business Segments Make Super Customers

News / July 17, 2015

In 2013, Preservation Green Lab (PGL) and the New Buildings Institute (NBI) reported on seven small building segments with high energy savings potential: food service, main street buildings, freestanding offices, strip malls, schools, freestanding retail and lodging. This inspired Diana...

New Construction Guide endorsed by Architecture 2030 to meet the 2030 Challenge

News / June 16, 2015

The New Construction Guide has also been incorporated as the prescriptive path to comply with the energy prerequisites for both USGBC’s LEED v4 and the Northeast Collaborative for High Performance Schools standard. The guide has also been adopted as the...

New Construction Guide endorsed by Architecture 2030 to meet the 2030 Challenge

News / June 1, 2015

New Buildings Institute (NBI) and Architecture 2030 are excited to announce that Architecture 2030 has endorsed a prescriptive path to meet the current 2030 Challenge goal based on NBI’s New Construction® New Construction Guide. With this path, design teams now...

Industry experts plan for future focused on commercial building performance outcomes, increased attention to operations

News / May 6, 2015

Determining a building’s energy efficiency based solely on using predictive energy models and specifying certain design and construction attributes may be a thing of the past by the time the next generation of architects and engineers join the workforce. Communities...

System Control Offers Increased HVAC Efficiency For Smaller Buildings

News / September 23, 2014

Environmental Leader reported on new technology in heating, venting and air conditioning building automation systems for small- and mid-sized buildings. The article references a 2004 New Buildings Institute study, which found that 91 percent of the packaged rooftop units tested...

PECI tests New Buildings Institute’s plug load energy use metrics at HQ

News / November 6, 2013

Building Design + Construction reported, that NBI developed the first ever set of plug load energy use metrics, which will allow commercial building owners and managers to more easily gain insight into their buildings’ energy use and become more energy...

PECI helps affirm usefulness of new plug load metrics

News / November 6, 2013

Portland-based PECI used NBI metrics to assess plug load energy use at its First and Main Building headquarters in downtown Portland. The study inspired an energy-saving campaign that resulted in an 18 percent kWh reduction of PECI’s plug load reports...

Energy Management Trends: The Power Of Plugs

News / September 30, 2013

An article written by Cathy Higgins, Research Director, and Dan Harris, P.E. was published by Today’s Facility Manager. The article reports that plug loads are the fastest growing energy use item in commercial buildings and can represent as much as...

Enlighted’s Technology Increases Employee Comfort and Reduces Lighting Power by 59% at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

News / July 30, 2013

Globe NewsWire reported that NEEA, NBI and Enlighted collaborated on a study that found when given the option, individuals chose less light. Organizations could substantially reduce their utility bills while improving employee satisfaction. (7/23/2013)

Commercial Plug Loads

News / October 19, 2012

A newsletter article referenced NBI’s “Commercial Office Plug Load Savings Assessment“. The study reveals details about actual energy consumption of common plug loads and measured savings of 40 percent or more resulting from low-cost efficiency measures. No- And Low-Cost Approaches...

High Performance, Low Operating Costs

News / October 16, 2012

Vermont Mutual Insurance Group wanted their building to perform in the most energy-efficient way. Their project team worked with Efficiency Vermont to follow the New Construction Core Performance Guide. Tracey Beckstrom, Senior Manager of Strategic Initiatives, wrote about the experience...

Tenants Look to Reduce Office Equipment Power Consumption

News / August 21, 2012

Commercial Property Executive Magazine’s plug-load management article quotes Amy Cortese, Senior Project Manager, and includes the 5 steps for reducing energy used by electronic devices from the Plug Load Best Practices Guide. (8/21/2012)

New guide outlines best practices for cutting energy used by plug-in devices

News / July 19, 2012

July 19, 2012–The number of things office workers plug into the socket is growing rapidly. To help commercial building owners and occupants get control of the energy used by office equipment and other electronic devices, New Buildings Institute (NBI) today...

Energy-Saving Deep Retrofits at Negligible Cost?

News / June 19, 2012

Deep retrofits with energy savings topping 30 to 50 percent result only from energy efficiency strategies that affect multiple building systems, reports Urban Land. This article references NBI’s work in the study A Search for Deep Energy Savings. (6/18/2012)

Deep Retrofits Promise Positive Returns

News / June 19, 2012

Deep retrofit examples, their strategies, related benefits, and their potential are described in an article published in Building Operating Management. These examples are drawn from NBI’s study A Search for Deep Energy Savings and include comments from Mark Lyles, NBI Project...

Lab Report: XXVIII

News / May 23, 2012

New ways of envisioning architecture, design, and construction are discussed in this blog by and they mention research done by NBI. This research can be found in the report Energy Performance of LEED for New Construction Buildings. (5/22/2012)

Daylighting as a Cost-Effective Solution

News / March 7, 2012

Existing buildings can maximize sunlight use without making structural changes. In this article, from Buildings, Barb Hamilton, Senior Lighting Manager for the NBI, offers three strategies to maximize daylight and minimize artificial light. (2/24/2012)


U.S. DOE announces support for national program on advanced water heating to cut carbon emissions and energy use

Post / May 21, 2021

Clothes washer, shower, kitchen sink. These are the places where hot water lives. In fact, water heating accounts for a large share of energy use in buildings—up to 32% in single-family and multifamily homes. Today, the U.S. Department of Energy...

New GridOptimal LEED pilot credit encourages designers to help solve grid issues

Post / March 31, 2021

In 2019, renewable energy provided more energy in the U.S. than coal. The last time this happened, in 1885, the Edison Electric Company had been running the first American central power plant for all of three years and was serving...

Future-Proofing Buildings for a More Resilient Tomorrow

Post / March 23, 2021

This is the second in a series exploring the COVID-19 pandemic’s relationship to buildings. In the first blog, Buildings’ Impact on Pandemics — we discussed how the building industry’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions can help fuel pandemics. These blogs are...

Buildings’ Impact on Pandemics

Post / February 26, 2021

As the people across the globe respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, a concerted effort has been made to keep occupants safe as office buildings reopen, an endeavor that can inherently use more energy from carbon-intensive generation resources exacerbating climate change...

Improving Health and Resilience Through Better Building Design

Post / October 6, 2020

This summer, as a record number of uncontained wildfires burned along the West Coast, residents feverishly checked websites such as PurpleAir to determine if it was safe to go outside. Every year, wildfires raise awareness about the impacts of poor...

Bringing Heat Pump Water Heaters into the Mainstream

Post / August 12, 2020

It takes a village to change technology. We in the efficiency industry have witnessed decades of partnerships to bring transformative change to refrigerators, lighting, motors and HVAC. With increasing concern over the energy use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated...

Electrification Nation?

Post / July 29, 2020

Natural gas, once the darling to replace carbon-intensive coal in electricity production, is increasingly being recognized as a significant cause of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that are fueling climate change. The main component of natural gas is methane, which when...

The Embodied Carbon Conundrum: Solving for All Emission Sources from the Built Environment

Post / February 26, 2020

Increasing urgency among policymakers and the design community to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Accord has spurred more aggressive codes and energy policies in jurisdictions around the United States. These strategies are making gains on driving down carbon...

Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti Leading the Way to Decarbonization with Municipal Buildings

Post / February 11, 2020

Less than year after Mayor Eric Garcetti unveiled a Green New Deal for the city of Los Angeles, he is building on that leadership with a new Executive Directive that will help kick-start the decarbonization movement by accelerating the transformation...

Local Governments Can Lead by Example in Climate Action, Starting with the Buildings They Own

Post / February 27, 2019

For communities across the United States that are committed to implementing policies and practices that advance the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, buildings represent a golden opportunity to lead by example. Overall, about 20% of the nation’s building floorspace...

Technology Talk—Getting to Zero Energy in Existing Buildings

Post / February 22, 2019

Without upgrading our existing buildings to higher efficiency technologies we have zero hope of getting to zero energy (ZE)–or at least ultra-low energy performance–and our carbon reduction targets. We know that there are many roads to retrofits but rapid scaling...

GridOptimal Buildings: Achieving Maximum Benefit for Smart Building-to-Grid Integration

Post / August 22, 2018

As policymakers and the building community encourage improved building efficiency and reduced carbon impacts, the rapid proliferation of distributed renewable energy resources–on local businesses and homes–creates technical challenges for grid operation, even as traditional revenue models for utilities face significant...

New Multifamily Guide Offers Solutions that Deliver Up to 25% Energy Savings

Post / October 10, 2017 / Energy Codes

Multifamily buildings pose a conundrum for advancing energy performance. As a building type, they are caught somewhere between commercial buildings and single-family residences – they are often constructed like commercial buildings, yet used as residential buildings. Energy-efficient technologies and design...

NBI Completes Study into Energy Performance of Commercial Buildings with Radiant Systems for Cooling and Heating

Post / August 10, 2017

During the renovation of the Edith Green Wendell Wyatt Federal Building, a variable air volume (VAV) system was replaced with a radiant design system. The design team included numerous CBE industry partners, including SERA Architects, Stantec, Interface Engineering, and Charles...

Best Practice Options for LED Lighting in Multifamily Offer Illumination Without Negative Impacts

Post / July 5, 2017 / Lighting

This material has been excerpted from the soon-to-be-released Multifamily Guide offering best practice design for high performance multifamily new construction projects. Stay tuned for more information on the Guide’s release. LED lighting had some of its earliest and broadest successes...

Cities Get Help to Prioritize Energy Upgrades, Improve Codes and Policies that Drive Better Building Performance

Post / April 21, 2017 / Benchmarking & Feedback, Existing Buildings

Buildings are responsible for almost half of all U.S. energy consumption (46%), and poor-performing buildings have an outsized impact on energy use. But without a systematic approach to track building performance, it’s often difficult to know where to start. By setting...

Small buildings get big boost from SMART Scale small commercial retrofit program

Post / October 18, 2016

NBI has long advocated for more attention, tools and resources for energy efficiency in the small business sector. We created the only prescriptive approach approved as a LEED-NC pathway for moving small new commercial buildings to high performance – the...

Congressional Members Look at Reinventing Existing Buildings

Post / September 29, 2015

I had the honor recently of addressing members of Congress on opportunities for “reinventing” existing buildings to achieve high levels of energy efficiency and productivity. The morning briefing was hosted by the Alliance to Save Energy. Why existing buildings? (more…)...

What Commercial Real Estate Executives Think and Do About Energy Efficiency

Post / September 16, 2015

The 2014 Northwest Commercial Building Stock Assessment estimates the size of the Commercial Real Estate (CRE) market in the Northwest to be 1.6 billion square feet–a market of existing buildings that are prime candidates for energy and carbon reductions through...

New Construction Guide and the Architecture 2030 Challenge

Post / July 1, 2015

In 2006, Architecture 2030 took a bold step: Challenge everyone involved with the built environment — designers, owners, government, utilities, operators and tenants, everyone — to reach for the goal of Zero Net Energy by 2030. Using the average performance...

Northwest cities get help from NEEA to address worst performing buildings

Post / November 20, 2014

Existing buildings with aging equipment and infrastructure represent a tremendous opportunity for energy savings. But, without a mechanism to identify inefficient buildings and prioritize budgets for upgrades, it’s difficult to know where to start. Under a pilot program, funded by...

NBI and NIBS Convene a Stellar Cast for August Summit with Compelling Outcomes

Post / September 12, 2014

NBI was thrilled to partner with National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) to host the Getting to Outcome-Based Performance Summit in Seattle. Together with a handpicked group of leading thinkers and practitioners in high performance building design, construction and operations, we...

Government Leadership Creates Powerful Action on Deep Energy Efficiency and Climate Change

Post / April 9, 2014

Vermont, California, Kentucky, Pima County, Salt Lake City, Fort Collins, Washington DC. These communities are among those leading by example in setting zero net energy (ZNE) goals for both local policies and their own government buildings. Policymakers in these jurisdictions...

Daylighting Done Right

Post / May 25, 2012

Incorporating natural light into building design has become an increasingly popular strategy that is dramatically improving energy performance and occupant satisfaction. The use of new glazing and shading systems as well as other daylight-harvesting components and controls is reducing dependence...

Case StudiesView All

Radiant Cooling and Heating Systems

Case Study / September 13, 2017 / HVAC

Several buildings with radiant heating and cooling systems were studied under a California Energy Commission EPIC research project in 2016-2017 and those case studies are available here. While forced-air distribution systems remain the predominant approach to heating and cooling in…

Savings Verification for Performance Contracting

Case Study / December 23, 2015

Washington’s Department of General Administration supervised an energy system retrofit of Spokane’s Westlake State Hospital and then was responsible for verifying the energy savings resulting from the improvements. However, when the hospital’s energy management system experienced a partial loss of…

The Runaway Building

Case Study / December 23, 2015

EZ Sim showed its versatility and its accuracy when analyzing a building with run away winter energy bills. While the building was initially modeled using a traditional engineering method, EZ Sim provided a quicker alternative to identify the nature of…

EZ SIM – Shows Bonus Energy Savings for County Office Building

Case Study / December 23, 2015

When a county building’s facility manager wanted to know if it was time to upgrade the building’s heat pumps, EZ Sim’s detective work helped to uncover more savings in more places than she bargained.

New England Regional Council of Carpenters

Case Study / December 23, 2015

The New England Regional Council of Carpenters (NERCC) represents 22,000 carpenters, pile drivers, shop and mill men, and floorcoverers working in the New England states.

Gibney Family Vision Center

Case Study / December 23, 2015

The Vermont Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (VABVI), a non-profit organization founded in 1926, is the only private rehabilitation agency to offer free training, services and support to visually impaired Vermonters of all ages. VABVI offices are located…

Fidelity Bank

Case Study / December 23, 2015

Fidelity Bank is one of the oldest and continually growing independent, local community banks in Central Massachusetts. In January 2007, the bank opened its new Corporate Center and Branch in Leominster, Massachusetts. The four-story building includes office space as well…

Duxbury Bay Maritime School

Case Study / December 23, 2015

Serving more than 1,800 students annually, the not-for-profit Duxbury Bay Maritime School aims to connect the community through educational and recreational programs with its primary resource, Duxbury Bay.

Child and Family of Newport County

Case Study / December 23, 2015

Child and Family of Newport County (CF) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening families and communities through services such as preschool childcare, counseling, home care for the elderly and disabled, substance abuse education, home-based child welfare, transitional housing for…

Abraham Lincoln Elementary School

Case Study / December 23, 2015

In September 2010, the Abraham Lincoln Elementary School opened its new green building, ready to accommodate 600 students. This new building includes masonry and steel construction, a 3,300 square foot state-of-the-art library and media center, a 5,700 square foot gymnasium,…

New Construction Project Directory & Case Studies

Case Study / December 23, 2015

Information about New Construction projects that have utilized Core Performance are available here and, when available, include links to case studies or project profiles.


Case Study / June 6, 2012

In March 2007, 31 staff at StopWaste.Org moved into a renovated building in downtown Oakland, California. Their goal was to transform a dilapidated, 14,000 SF, two-story structure into an attractive and environmentally responsible building. Built in 1926, the building is…

FirstView and USGBC Building Performance

Case Study / May 18, 2012

NBI's FirstView™ software and services have been used on over 200 LEED buildings involved in the U.S. Green Building Council’s Building Performance Partnership (BPP). BPP is a voluntary program designed to improve the performance of green buildings by providing a…

1525 Wilson Boulevard

Case Study / April 27, 2012

This all-electric building in Rossyln, VA used a combination of energy efficiency strategies, including replacing HVAC and lighting systems and providing tenant education. Energy use was reduced by 35% in just one year, resulting in savings over $250,000 on energy…

Mercy Corps Headquarters

Case Study / April 27, 2012

This building in Portland, OR is 50% historic renovation and 50% new construction. The information in this profile addresses both the renovated and the new parts of the building. Pursuing energy efficiency supports their mission of sustainability, and lower operating…

Home On The Range

Case Study / April 27, 2012

This Project Profile builds on a case study prepared by USGBC, including data on energy performance for one year, and provides updated owner feedback and energy use data. The actual energy use of the building in Billings, MT, is 46…

Beardmore Building

Case Study / April 27, 2012

The Beardmore in Priest River, Idaho has the distinction of being one of the few buildings in the country that is both LEED Gold certified and on the National Register of Historic Places. The project demonstrates a very successful renovation…

200 Market Building

Case Study / April 27, 2012

The 200 Market building in Portland, OR, has made continuous energy retrofits and system improvements. These efforts have moved the building from an ENERGY STAR score of 79 in 2006 to a score of 98 (out of 100) in 2010,…

Joseph Vance Building

Case Study / April 27, 2012

Since its acquisition, significant investments have been made to renovate this building in Seattle to improve energy efficiency and environmental performance, as well as tenant experience. Occupancy increased from 68% to 96% and has seen increased rents, tenant retention and…

Alliance Center

Case Study / April 27, 2012

The Alliance for Sustainable Colorado launched a project titled “Modeling a Net Zero Future: Energy Efficiency in Existing Buildings” to explore options that will enable it to approach a zero-net energy goal. Several documents developed for the project are referenced…

A Case For Deep Savings: 11 Case studies of Deep Energy Retrofits

Case Study / August 23, 2011

For NEEA’s BetterBricks program, New Buildings Institute investigated* 11 examples of energy retrofits in existing commercial buildings that, on average, use 50% less energy than the national average – most with an energy use intensity (EUI) of less than 40…

Measured Performance Case Study: Classroom & Office Building, UC Merced

Case Study / January 26, 2010

The Classroom and Office Building (COB) examined in this case study is one of five buildings in the initial phase of development at UC Merced. This case study examines the actual post-occupancy performance of COB in relation to design elements…

Measured Performance Case Study: Science & Engineering Building 1, UC Merced

Case Study / January 26, 2010

Science & Engineering (S&E) Building I is one of five buildings in the initial phase of development at UC Merced. This case study examines the actual post-occupancy energy performance of S&E in relation to design elements and objectives.

Tools & Guides

Controlling Comfort and Energy in Offices: Upgrading in Automated Shades and Advanced Lighting for Occupant and Owner Benefits

Guideline / August 27, 2021

Interior lighting and window shading innovations have advanced leaps and bounds in the past two decades. Each innovation offers benefits to existing buildings, ranging from improved occupant comfort and wellbeing to significant energy savings. Geared toward building owners and operators,…


FirstView / October 15, 2018 / Benchmarking & Feedback

FirstView is a software tool that enables building owners and designers to extract more targeted and useful energy performance information from basic data inputs. The software takes in basic building data and one year’s energy usage and uses multivariable regression…

Public Buildings Portfolio Management

Guideline / January 11, 2018 / Existing Buildings

Hundreds of Mayors across the United State have made formal commitments to the Paris Climate Accord. Others have signed onto the 2030 Challenge and/or the Better Buildings Challenge. To meet these goals, an effective strategy to track, manage, and improve…

Multifamily Building Guide

Guideline / September 6, 2017

NBI's Multifamily Guide offers an advanced standard that addresses the issues faced when applying building code to multifamily buildings. This single prescriptive standard delivers savings regardless of whether the project is subject to the residential or commercial versions of the…

HVAC Primer

Guideline / June 14, 2017

This primer describes energy savings opportunities and context for packaged rooftop units (RTUs) for utility energy managers and their trade allies. RTUs are ubiquitous in commercial spaces but are also a difficult market to reach. Analysis shows many opportunities for…

Quantifying the Water-Energy Nexus at the Building Project Scale

Online Tool / June 1, 2017 / Water-Energy Nexus

NBI has laid the groundwork to connect the water-energy nexus at the power plant with the energy consumed at the building level. With the support of existing research and funding from the Edwards Mother Earth Foundation, NBI has created a…


Online Tool / February 21, 2017 / Existing Buildings

Introducing SMARTScale... In 2014, the US Department of Energy (DOE) awarded a grant to NBI partner Ecology Action to create and demonstrate a nationally scalable model targeted to utility and public benefits efficiency program operators for delivering deep retrofits in…

Daylighting Pattern Guide

Online Tool / December 20, 2015 / Daylighting

The Daylighting Pattern Guide is a free, interactive tool that helps design teams incorporate proven daylighting strategies into commercial building projects for substantial reductions in lighting power consumption and overall building energy use.

New Construction Guide

Guideline / December 12, 2015

Increasing energy code stringency and owner demand for higher efficiency in buildings are challenging design teams to deliver high performance without adding costs. The New Construction Guide offers a comprehensive prescriptive approach to new commercial construction projects that achieves efficiencies…

FirstView for Multifamily Buildings

Online Tool / May 27, 2014

Multifamily buildings offer a largely untapped opportunity for improving energy efficiency. Despite tremendous potential for savings, the multifamily market is hard to penetrate due to complexities in market structure and split incentives. More and more attention is being paid to…

Plug Load Best Practices Guide

Guideline / July 17, 2012

The Plug Load Best Practices Guide outlines no-cost and low-cost measures for reducing the energy and costs associated with plug loads, or any device that is plugged into a building’s electrical system—think computers, printers and data servers. The guide, based…

Core Performance Guide

Guideline / January 27, 2012

The Core Performance Guide is a prescriptive path was first published in 2007. The Core Performance Guide offered a prescriptive approach to achieving high levels of energy efficiency above contemporary energy codes. It was also included in previous versions of…