Push for energy efficient building upgrades and retrofits increases across U.S.

November 8, 2011

Several companies have increased their push for more energy efficient buildings for U.S. businesses, as the waste that is produced by structures has been targeted for both fiscal and environmental reasons.

According to the Department of Energy (DOE), U.S. buildings account for 40 percent of energy consumption in the country, and 30 percent of the energy used in these structures is either wasted or inefficient.

This is why the DOE set up an center in Pennsylvania to address this problem, as the organization provided $129 million in funding for a partnership between private companies, government entities and universities at a designated site.

The effort was named the Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster for Energy-Efficient Buildings project (GPIC) and is located at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

Other companies are looking to help businesses restructure their buildings by offering incentives or low up-front cost programs.

Fierce Energy reported that this type of energy waste, as reported by the DOE, has led companies to reconsider their use of inefficient buildings, and significant incentives are now offered to help businesses adjust.

According to the news source, Serious Energy will offer a program that utilizes clean energy practices and will offer services that lowers energy and maintenance costs with a zero up-front payment on retrofits.

This company helped to upgrade 6,514 dual pane windows on the Empire State Building, a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified structure. This retrofit helped to reduce the overall energy cost by 38 percent, Fierce Energy reported.

"They don’t have to put anything down. It takes off any risk a customer might perceive," Claire Broido Johnson, general manager of SeriousCapital, told Gigaom. "Customers who don’t have the capital or [who] don’t want any extra debt on their balance sheet can just sign up for the services from us, and those services include an energy reduction."

According to the news source, it has been tough for the company to sell its idea to some customers due to the fact that long-term savings are tough to promote in this economy.

Environment 360 reported that some experts in the industry counter this point, as they noted that the building owners would be motivated by profit to do so.

Karin Giefer, an associate and sustainability consultant at the engineering firm, Arup, noted that "if it will pay out and save energy, [building owners] will do it."