New Standard Helps Cool Roof Manufacturers Test Impacts of Outdoor Exposure

In April 2015, the standards organization ASTM International issued a new standard protocol for simulating the long-term reflectance of cool roofing materials as they age. The standard effectively reduces the product rating process from three years to three days, speeding the introduction of new cool roofing products. The protocol, developed by a collaboration of researchers led by Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, involves putting roofing materials in a commercial weathering machine and soiling them with a mix of soot, particulate matter, and salts.

Energy Department Invests $6 Million to Increase Energy Efficiency of Schools, Offices, Stores and other U.S. Buildings

As part of the Administration’s effort to cut energy waste in the nation’s buildings and double energy productivity by 2030, the Energy Department today announced nearly $6 million to accelerate energy efficiency in offices, shops, schools and other buildings that will help businesses and communities save money, create jobs, and reduce pollution.

“The Energy Department is committed to partnering with market leaders who demonstrate cutting edge energy-efficient technologies and practices in new and existing commercial buildings,” said Dr. David Danielson, Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “These low-energy building solutions will reduce air pollution and help building owners and operators save money on their operating costs through best practices that can be replicated by others.”

In total, the eight competitively-selected projects will receive $6 million and with private sector cost sharing reach a total investment of $12.5 million.

The eight projects will demonstrate one or more approaches for improving commercial building energy use by up to 50% that can then be replicated across the country. Each project is aimed at increasing the widespread use of high priority tools and technologies supported by the Energy Department.

Last year, commercial buildings accounted for approximately 20 percent of total U.S. energy use, equivalent to about 18 quadrillion British thermal units (Btus) of energy. The Department estimates owners and occupants could save billions of dollars annually by investing in cost-effective, energy-saving technologies. These investments could potentially lead to greater demand for new building products and technologies, many of which are produced and developed in the U.S.

Today’s projects selected to receive funding are:

  • City of Milwaukee: Milwaukee and 11 partners will receive $750,000 to demonstrate retrofit approaches in up to 200 commercial buildings across Wisconsin. Approaches will include bundled energy efficiency retrofits to make it easier for owners to choose among their efficiency options paired with emerging finance mechanisms such as property assessed clean energy financing (PACE). Milwaukee will also develop an efficient lighting design pattern book and pilot the Energy Department’s Standard Energy Efficiency Data Platform (SEED), an open source software application that manages energy performance data of large groups of buildings.
  • DNV GL Energy: DNV GL Energy will receive $185,000 to implement and demonstrate a systems management approach for quality maintenance and high efficiency replacements of rooftop air conditioning units (RTUs) across more than 100 public elementary, middle and high schools in New York. Project successes could help increase the efficiency of at least 140,000 RTUs at New York schools, equivalent to saving an estimated 38 gigawatt-hours of electricity.
  • Energy Center of Wisconsin: The Energy Center will receive $1 million to demonstrate new approaches for procuring new high efficiency buildings through its Accelerate Performance project, which will emphasize setting explicit high efficiency performance goals when buying a new building and performance benchmarking. Best practices derived from piloting the tools will be transferred to utility programs and other building portfolios to scale up the program. Project partners include the Institute for Sustainable Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
  • Envision Charlotte: Envision Charlotte will receive $500,000 to expand its energy management approaches to more than triple the number of participating buildings across the community. The organization will demonstrate the Department’s Advanced Energy Retrofit Guides, Better Buildings Workforce Guidelines, and Commercial Building Energy Asset Score, used in achieving substantial energy savings.
  • Institute for Market Transformation (IMT): IMT will receive $1 million to develop an innovative toolkit based on the Department’s Standard Energy Efficiency Database and other resources to enable cities and energy efficiency program administrators to better analyze building energy data for delivering energy savings more successfully. The project’s goals include: demonstrating the value of building benchmarking; creating new building technologies; driving competition; and identifying commercial buildings that would benefit most from energy efficiency programs. Partners include the New York City Energy Efficiency Corporation, New York City Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, NYSERDA, District of Columbia Department of the Environment, and Vermont Energy Investment Corporation.
  • Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator: Through the Technology Demonstration Initiative (TDI), this organization will receive $560,000 to advance the use of highly energy efficient technologies in commercial buildings in California. TDI will measure, document and publicize the results of the demonstration projects, as well as help property owners define clear metrics to scale up successful demonstration projects to multiple sites. Partners include the Sustento Group, LLC and the Los Angeles Better Buildings Challenge, LLC.
  • Performance Systems Development: The OpenEfficiency Initiative will receive $1 million to design, develop, and deploy an open source technology platform that links the Department’s tools and solutions to deliver cost-effective, energy savings of at least 20% in more than 300 commercial buildings in three states. The platform will increase the energy savings per building, the types of buildings served, and accelerate the adoption of whole-building programs in the marketplace. Partners include Xcel, SoCalREN, Energy Coalition, NREL and Cadmus.
  • Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA): RILA and its project partners will receive $750,000 to improve energy savings in the retail sector by helping energy managers secure financing for efficiency projects, a top issue identified as limiting energy-efficiency investment in this significant market sector. This project will result in at least 5 new replicable, documented energy financial management strategies. These include establishing dedicated energy efficiency budgets, improving project proposal processes, financing team awareness of energy project value and the project piloting processes; establishing energy innovation funds; and utilizing external financing where necessary.

The Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy accelerates development and facilitates deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and market-based solutions that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality. EERE supports innovative technologies that reduce both risk and costs of bringing energy-efficient building technologies online. Learn more about the Department’s efforts to help homes and buildings save energy.

Beyond the numbers: The true value of building retrofits

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

How did Sharp Development measure the success of its deep retrofit investment of a 1970s-era Class C building in Silicon Valley? Although energy efficiency was important, what mattered more was the decreased lease-up time and increased rent.

Similarly, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) measured the success of the deep retrofit of its Washington, D.C., headquarters by the retrofit’s ability to reduce the risk of failing equipment, avoid a downgrade in market value and bring the building up to code compliance.

For Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (CDC) (PDF), it was the expected 10 percent asset value increase to a 1930s-era building in Paris. For Malkin Holdings, it was the avoidance of millions in planned capital costs for the Empire State Building. For Hilton (PDF), it was the increased net operating income and property value as well as improved customer experience at its Universal Studios-Los Angeles hotel. And for the Rose Smart Growth Investment Fund (PDF), it was the boost in occupancy from 68 to 96 percent at the Joseph Vance Building in downtown Seattle.

These stories corroborate strong market evidence that energy cost savings — while significant — represent just one driver motivating investment in deep energy retrofits.

Nevertheless, real estate investors generally neglect the value beyond energy cost savings that these stories highlight when they prepare and present capital requests for deep retrofits. The result: undervaluation of deep retrofit opportunities that leads to (unintended) underinvestment in efficient buildings, leaving millions on the table (and increasing carbon emissions in the atmosphere).

Incorporating the additional — albeit less tangible — value beyond energy cost savings into decision making is therefore critical to improve investor due diligence, enable better assessments of the value proposition for deep retrofits, and in turn unlock needed capital.

Insights from Smart Meters: Ramp-Up, Dependability, and Short-Term Persistence of Savings from Home Energy Reports

Download the document.

This report, the third in a series on smart meters, presents smart meter data to analyze the ramp-up, dependability, and short-term persistence of savings in Home Energy Reports (HERs)—one type of a behavior-based energy efficiency program.

The analysis presented uses easily available data to determine the ramp-up and dependability of HER program savings over the short-term (day-to-day), which can help utilities, program planners, system planners, regulators, and policymakers improve:

  • HER program design and reduce deployment costs by optimizing report frequency
  • Short-term demand and overall energy forecasts so that daily savings can be predicted with a reasonable degree of accuracy, resulting in more effective hedging strategies for fuel and purchased power procurement
  • HER cost-effectiveness by more accurately predicting program benefits.

See also the other two reports in the series:

Here’s how Method’s new Chicago factory went green—and how much it cost

Read the full story in Crain’s Chicago Business.

When a company builds its reputation on making “green” products, the first factory of its own had better be equally green.

That’s why Method Products, a maker of eco-friendly soaps and cleaning products, pursued the highest level of LEED certification—Platinum—from the U.S. Green Building Council for its Pullman plant.

Webinar/Workshop: Buildings of the Future: NYC Workshop

Mon, May 4, 2015 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM CDT
Register at

We have invited over a dozen of thought leaders in academia and industry to explore our future buildings through a series of moderated conversations led by our host universities. The panel discussions will focus on the interactions of city, buildings, environment, and occupants.

Panelists hope to answer the question of “What can a standard American building be in a high-density urban environment in 100 years from a city to personal scale.” The dialogue will examine the energy, resource, and information flows of today and tomorrow; how technologies have been and will be influencing city life; how a connected built environment can help us adapt to changes; and prepare for unanticipated events.

More details about each session can be found here:

8:30–9:00 Welcome and Introduction

9:00–9:30 Buildings of the Future: Seeing Beyond this Century
Nora Wang, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Pat Phelan, Department of Energy

9:30–11:00 Cities of the Future: Intelligence and Resilience
Jorge Gonzalez, The City College of New York

Panelists: Alex Washburn, Stevens Institute of Technology
Mark Arend, City University of New York
Stuart Gaffin, Columbia University

11:00–12:30 Urban Data for Future Cities
Masoud Ghandehari, New York University

Panelists: Tom Butcher, Brookhaven National Labs
David Gifford, New York City Economic Development Corporation
Constantine Kontakosta, NYU
Michael Harrington, Con Edison
Mark De Yoanna, National Grid

12:30–1:00 Break for Lunch

1:00–2:30 Occupants of the Future: Wellness and Performance
Edward Bogucz and Chetna Chianese, Syracuse Center of Excellence

Panelists: Michael Speaks, Syracuse University
Vivian Loftness, Carnegie Mellon University
Joseph Allen, Harvard University

2:30–4:00 Smart Buildings and Smart Controls
Bill Worek, Stony Brook University

Panelists: Mike Schell, AirTest
Marc Thuillard, Belimo-US
Larry Weber, Honeywell

4:00–4:30 Summary