Renewables and energy efficient buildings: Cutting consumption levels

July 20, 2012

The commercial real estate sector in the U.S. is beginning to mirror the rest of the country's industries, as the increasing value that is associated with energy efficient products is not being lost on people who occupy and sell buildings.

Renewable Energy World reported that a number of commercial buildings in the U.S. are beginning to harness the power provided by renewable energy sources, with everything from hospitals to financial institutions relying on these alternative fuels.

According to the news outlet, individual hospitals are often some of the largest consumers of energy in the commercial real estate market, and many of these buildings are now being powered by solar panels, geothermal sources or wind power – at least for some of the machinery.

Several Department of Energy-sponsored programs, including the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, are helping organizations around the country lower their consumption rates through the use of more efficient products and energy sources

"The Advanced Energy Design Guidelines [AEDG] series represents the best practices in industry for energy efficiency in buildings," NREL Senior Research Engineer and AEDG Project Chair Shanti Pless said. "Our job is to develop those best practices, along with the professionals in the industry, and put them together in an easy-to-implement guide. NREL created the modeling and optimization software used to determine that what is going into the guides achieves a 50 percent savings goal."

Pless also noted that the market for sustainable and energy efficient buildings is growing, solely because the option of reduced costs and consumption is there, if "they are paying attention."

Not only are these buildings – and often houses and other residential structures – more energy conscious, they are also worth more.

The Associated Press reported that a new study has found that homes with an Energy Star, or equivalent, rating are worth more than those without this energy efficient certification.

According to the news outlet, researchers found that these homes are worth more due to the "Prius Effect," which dictates that there is a certain sentiment surrounding these structures that makes people feel better about themselves.

Green structures are not only cheaper to operate and less harmful to the environment, but they are worth more. The DOE is trying to promote these multiple benefits through its Energy Efficient Buildings Hub (EEB Hub), an effort headquartered in Philadelphia.

The EEB Hub is working with the city's commercial real estate sector to implement a complete transformation of the building market.