Energy retrofit report shows savings come from sustainability

January 12, 2012

A new report by the Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation has outlined the effectiveness of energy retrofits, as significant savings were identified in the findings of the study, according to Next American City.

The study analyzed more than 20,000 units in roughly 230 housing projects in New York City, and found that retrofitting multifamily buildings with energy efficient measures can reduce the fuel use of these structures by up to 20 percent.

According to the report, buildings also reduced that electric consumption by 7 percent, and on average, these structures recorded $240 in per unit savings for fuel and $50 in per unit savings for common area electricity.

The total portfolio-wide energy savings that were recorded by Deutsche Bank totaled $2.3 million for fuel costs and $730,000 for electric costs. These monetary savings were not the only reported benefit, as a total of 11,624 tons of reduced carbon emissions were tallied by the institution.

The report also found that fuel measures tend to save more than their electric counterparts, due to the fact that electricity costs remain a small portion of what is spent and consumed by individuals. This would mean that more benefit would come from addressing reductions to the former, as opposed to the latter.

According to the findings, the actual savings that building owners and renters benefit from are strongly correlated to the pre-retrofit usage for the structure in which they live.

"The buildings consuming more energy per square foot have the greater potential to save," according to the report.

The report also contained analysis concerning the problems found in implementing new technology and limiting the potential of the new retrofits. Inappropriate or inadequate retrofit scope, improper execution of the retrofit, unexpected post-retrofit operations and maintenance and load growth and metering issues were all seen as impediments to achieving the highest-possible return on investment for the buildings.  

Measures that were effective, according to the report, were replacing atmospheric boilers with sealed combustion units, installing cogeneration systems, switching from oil to gas, using retrofits that allow for steam boilers to be offline during summer months, upgrading steam controls and distribution and the installation of roof insulation.

Developing, designing and implementing these technologies has been something that the U.S. Department of Energy sees as a way to reduce the 40 percent of total consumption in the country that commercial buildings are responsible for. The DOE designated a specific innovation HUB, the Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster for Energy Efficient Buildings (GPIC), to make progress in the sector and use the large supply of building stock in the Greater Philadelphia region for testing.