Exploring energy efficient buildings: Companies have myriad options for upgrades

July 23, 2012

Commercial buildings in the U.S. account for a significant amount of the total energy that is used in the country, and the estimated 40 percent of energy expenditure could be cut sharply through the use of more efficient technology in these structures.

AOL Energy reported that the new advances in technology over the past several years have streamlined energy efficiency programs in the U.S., a move that can allow building owners and companies to favor the use of products that reduce consumption levels and waste.

"You have to look at a building as an organism that needs to be monitored consistently because conditions change – like weather or occupancy. A building is a dynamic entity, you can't just build it and walk away," Dave Bartlett, the president of IBM Smart Buildings, told the news outlet.

IBM created a smart building initiative to help increase the number of structures that use efficient products and technologies to cut waste. According to AOL Energy, this effort will help organizations realize where the main areas for improvement are, as the technology firm can capture data, run analytics on it and design solutions to optimize efficiency.

There is significant room for improvement in the commercial real estate sector and efforts like the IBM initiative and the Department of Energy's Energy Efficient Buildings Hub (EEB Hub) are making headway.

The EEB Hub is looking to influence the commercial real estate sector in the Greater Philadelphia region, as it is hoping that energy efficient practices will be adopted and a vibrant sector will emerge within this area.

Financing for projects has been the issue that has prevented some buildings from adopting energy efficient technology, and efforts like the EEB Hub are looking to reverse this trend.

Triple Pundit reported that other than efforts like the EEB Hub, many companies are struggling to find financing for projects. Despite the claims that the "free" market will lead to an uptick in programs to increase efficiency, this notion has yet to play out.

The potential for investment is there, but a lack of action could prevent many retrofit projects from happening.

"The volume of truly low-hanging fruit, with less than an eight-year payback, is enormous," Dr. John Byrne, a professor of Energy at University Delaware, told the news outlet.