The next level of energy efficiency in buildings depends on a holistic systems
approach that accounts for how building
systems, facilities and the grid interact
with each other, according to the Systems
Efficiency Initiative, a coalition of more than
50 government agencies, utilities, design
professionals and manufacturers.
The systems approach is necessary
because individual pieces of mechanical
equipment and other building components
are rapidly approaching technical and
economic limitations for energy efficiency,
meaning that it will cost more and more to
achieve marginal efficiency improvements.
In addition, individual components that
are highly efficient don’t always mean the
building operates efficiently. A whole-building view solves both of these problems
by finding savings opportunities in the interactions between building systems, an area
that offers previously unexplored avenues to
reducing energy consumption.
The report identifies two major priorities
for building owners. Chief among them is
partnering with energy services companies
Blueprint Charts Path to Building System Efficiency
HOW A HOLISTIC VIEW ENABLES GREATER ENERGY SAVINGS
to build up building-to-grid capabilities
incrementally. This should be done in combination with building systems designed
THE NEXT STEP IN ENERGY EFFICIENCY
relies on a whole-building view that finds
energy savings in the interactions between
building systems, facilities and the grid.
Thanks to new building construction spawning across the U.S., a promising
upward trend in ultra-low energy (ULE)
buildings is taking form.
Also spreading to existing building retrofits, ULE building projects exist in more than
Today’s buildings consume roughly 40% of
all energy used in the United States, according to the American Council for an Energy
Efficient Economy (ACEEE). The organization
encourages more buildings to adopt the ULE
Buildings On the Rise
BUILDINGS CONSUME ROUGHLY 40% OF
ALL ENERGY USED IN THE UNITED STATES
ULTRA-LOW ENERGY (ULE) CONSUMPTION is becoming more
achievable for new construction and retrofits alike. ULE buildings are an important step toward net zero energy use.
around the non-energy benefits of connected devices and Io T. The end goal is a
multidirectional flow of both power and
information between utilities and customers,
coupled with smart sensing, metering and
control technologies that enable proactive
demand response decisions rather than
Building owners’ and managers’ associations are also urged to educate members on
how commissioning (both initial and ongoing) impacts building performance, participate in pilot programs and support workforce training to achieve the original performance intent of buildings as designed. The
report recommends programs recognized
by the DOE Better Buildings Workforce
Guidelines as a good place to start; consider
reaching out to professional organizations
as well, as many offer continuing education
for building professionals.
The full report, Going Beyond Zero: A
Systems Efficiency Blueprint for Building
Energy Optimization and Resilience, is available at www.ase.org/sei.
standard of reducing commercial building
energy intensity by 60-70%, an important
step in achieving a building that consumes
zero net energy.
“By addressing these areas, we can establish the foundation for ZNE by 2030 while
providing energy savings and related benefits
in the interim,” ACEEE notes.
Public K- 12 educational facilities in the
state of California are
living examples of ZNE
savings, where schools
from San Diego to
Sacramento implemented modern certifications
(such as those from
the International Living
Future Institute) to save
energy and reduce their
bottom line. B