NBI milestone gives cause for reflection

NBI has released its FY2012 Annual Report. Here is the opening letter from Executive Director Dave Hewitt and Board President David Goldstein.New Buildings Institute hit a milestone at the end of 2012, turning 15 years old. Thinking back on the changes that have occurred related to energy efficiency in commercial buildings over that time, the contrast is striking. Back then there was no LEED, no 2030 Challenge. The electricity industry was restructuring and investments in energy efficiency programs were plummeting. Energy codes were set at ASHRAE 90.1 1989 levels, and even when adopted were not enforced in many places. There was a growing interest among designers for better energy performance in buildings, but whether that would coalesce to create something different—we had no idea. Fast forward to 2012 when the LEED-certified buildings stock hits 2 billion square feet, energy code stringency is improved by over 30% and efficiency program investments top $9 billion. The American Institute of Architects has committed itself to 2030 zero-energy goals. And remarkably, the prospect of a zero energy building is no longer simply a vision. There are real buildings across the country—21 by our most recent count—that use only the amount of energy that can be generated onsite with renewable resources. We anticipate that list could approach 100 verified projects by the end of this year. These significant changes have been relatively swift, which indicates that many people have worked tirelessly to make them happen. NBI’s staff and collaborators have been part of that transformation every step of the way during these past 15 years. This small, no-nonsense, nonprofit organization has filled the critical gaps in building science research turning experience into guidance for design professionals and next-practice offerings for efficiency programs. NBI’s policy development and codes advocacy is catalyzing shifts in state and local priorities and has literally changed the face of commercial building energy codes and programs.Continued movement of the industry to a framework of targeted energy outcomes is a future focus for NBI. This approach relies on setting energy targets for individual buildings, and using measured data to assess how effectively a building is operating. Targeted energy outcomes will become a common link for application to codes, policies and programs and give us a mechanism for achieving net zero goals and addressing ongoing building energy use in the vast existing building stock—a critical component of success for U.S. climate policy. NBI holds a unique position bridging the energy and commercial building industries. Recently, the staff and board took a step back to assess this position and how we could best realize our mission. We understand that NBI advances energy efficiency by leveraging our deep technical knowledge and our national network to define and share “What’s Next?” for high performance buildings. This is what you get when you support NBI and our work. While the pages of this report highlight some of our accomplishments during the last year, we wanted to acknowledge the leadership and commitment of NBI staff and stakeholders. NBI’s greatest asset is the innovative thinking of its employees and the relationships they hold—very valuable indeed. David Hewitt
NBI Executive Director

David B. Goldstein
President, NBI Board of Directors Read the full report