What is a Zero Energy Building?

Most buildings today use a lot of energy — to keep the lights on, cool the air, heat water, and power personal devices. Even installing solar systems will not significantly counter the heavy energy load.

There are, however, some buildings that strike a balance; or even tip the scales the other way! These are called zero energy buildings.

Shading and Lighting Retrofits Slash Energy Use in New York “Living Lab” Office Demonstration

Read the full story from Lawrence Berkeley National Lab.

By using advanced lighting and automated shades, scientists from the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) found that occupants on one floor of a high-rise office building in New York City were able to reduce lighting energy usage by nearly 80 percent in some areas.

The dramatic results emerged at a “living laboratory” set up to test four sets of technologies on one 40,000 square-foot floor of a building.

‘Expert in a suitcase’ cuts power bills 10% in small commercial buildings

Read the full story from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

The knowledge and expertise of a seasoned energy efficiency professional has been packed into a high-tech suitcase.

The Sensor Suitcase is a portable case that contains easy-to-use sensors and other equipment that make it possible for anyone to identify energy-saving opportunities in small commercial buildings. The automated and reusable system combines hardware and software in one package so its users can identify cost-effective measures that save small commercial buildings about 10 percent on their energy bills.

Jointly developed by two Department of Energy labs, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the Sensor Suitcase has been licensed by two companies that plan to provide products or services based on the technology. The licensees are GreenPath Energy Solutions and Cultural Quotient.

Why Don’t Green Buildings Live Up to Hype on Energy Efficiency?

Read the full story at e360.

Analysts call it the “energy performance gap” — the difference between promised energy savings in green buildings and the actual savings delivered. The problem, researchers say, is inept modeling systems that fail to capture how buildings really work.

Thinking Outside the Bulb: Innovative Companies Switch on Lumens as a Service

Read the full post from the Rocky Mountain Institute.

The transition to low-cost, highly efficient clean energy technology is being accelerated by an accompanying revolution in innovative business models to deploy that technology. This new approach can be seen in a number of clean energy markets; whether the underlying technology is a recent innovation, such as solar photovoltaics (PV), or well established, like automobiles. As with other similar industry shifts, the fundamental drivers are sound economics combined with the right business model.

A recent example is Lumens as a Service (LaaS), which is the subject of a May 2017 report from RMI. The opportunity is enormous. According to one study, potential building energy efficiency savings could exceed $1 trillion over a decade. The opportunity is particularly compelling for lighting, as it represents about 10 percent of commercial electricity consumption, as reported by the U.S. Energy Information Administration in 2016.

Does Wasting Home Heating Make You See (Infra)red?

Read the full post from the Rocky Mountain Institute.

Have you ever wanted x-ray vision, or to see the hidden features of your home? The City of Vancouver has launched a new effort to make energy use more visible to its residents, complete with rainbow-colored images of their homes that show details invisible to the naked eye. Using thermal imaging to show heat loss in roughly 15,000 homes in five neighborhoods, Vancouver aims to help residents uncover wasted energy. How can making invisible aspects of a home visible drive energy savings and economic development?

Silent Saver Under Attack: Why We Need the Building Technologies Office

Read the full story from ACEEE.

Are you happy to have cheap, efficient light bulbs that don’t flicker and hum? How about a large refrigerator that uses less electricity than the old incandescent bulb? A small government office has played a key role in all of these innovations and now helps the average American family save almost $500 each year in lower energy bills.

Yet this silent saver is under attack. Like ENERGY STAR® and other effective federal energy efficiency programs, the Building Technologies Office (BTO) would be slashed in the administration’s proposed budget for 2018. It may not be “sexy,” as the last president once called insulation. But few offices are more important to consumers.

Our recent fact sheet shows how BTO helps consumers save money, creates jobs, fosters innovation, makes businesses more competitive, and helps states and local governments. BTO is one of 11 program offices in the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Office, which in turn is a small part of the Department of Energy.

At a cost of less than $2 per household, BTO is helping you save almost $500. Actually, that’s just in appliances, equipment, and lighting covered by efficiency standards that BTO issues. BTO helps throughout what I call the virtuous spiral of energy efficiency market transformation.