Today, energy efficient standards for new commercial building construction are being integrated on the systems level into High Performance Buildings (HPBs) to create spaces that optimize energy efficiency and create high-occupant-productivity. I don’t know about you readers out there, but I’d have to agree with NEMA’s Director of HPBs; when I hear people talking about “net-zero” buildings and “BIM” (Building Information Modeling), I get goose bumps. HPBs are truly lighting the way to a brighter, greener, energy-independent tomorrow.
Exciting stuff. However, we can’t let the brightness of the future dim our perspective on the past. About 2.5 million buildings or 60 percent of the U.S. commercial building stock were built before 1980. While some of these buildings have no doubt undergone renovations, the overwhelming majority are still using lighting that meets pre-1980 standards and is very inefficient by today’s standards. If the U.S. is going to achieve energy independence, we need to make sure we have all our bases covered.
For commercial buildings, there are very cost-effective retrofits available for the existing electrical and mechanical systems and upgrades for the building envelops that can significantly reduce energy use and energy costs. Those looking to get the most “bang for their buck” should focus on lighting, HVAC, hot water, and building envelop systems. Many utility companies incentivize retrofitting these building systems and the federal Commercial Building Tax Deduction program does, too.
For more information on potential energy savings available through lighting upgrades, visit www.nemasavesenergy.com.