Research shows many buildings may be energy efficiency goldmines

February 7, 2012

Office building owners may be able to save as much as 43 percent of the annual energy costs for the structure, according to a report released by Retroficiency.

BostInno reported that the point of the research was to show that commercial buildings vary in their potential savings from energy efficiency investments, but all stand to benefit from the reductions.

The news source cited one of the first reports – done by McKinsey & Company in 2009 – regarding energy efficient buildings, which showed that investing in efficient technology could help building owners save the environment and limit their total costs.

The Retroficiency report highlighted several key points, as certain types of buildings would benefit more – from a cost perspective – than others. 

"Significant opportunity exists with older, smaller buildings. Stakeholders should find innovative ways to target these smaller buildings which may historically been a secondary focus," said the report, as cited by BostInno.

The report, according to the news source, outlined that roughly 20 percent of commercial buildings with the highest potential energy savings averaged 43 percent in potential reductions, while the bottom 20 percent averaged only 5 percent in potential savings.

BostInno reported that the findings also showed that heating and lighting offer the biggest savings in retrofitting older structures.

"Energy savings opportunities exist across all major end use types, but benefits will vary based on actual systems installed in a given building," the report noted, highlighting how heating and lighting were the top two areas for savings, followed by cooling.

The Mckinsey & Company report highlighted how the retrofitting of buildings could help both companies and the environment, but the idea of energy efficient buildings may be one that the U.S. could explore in terms of economic viability.

Research suggested that the upfront costs would be significantly lower than the total amount of money that was wasted on an annual basis by inefficient buildings and technology.

The report also noted that the only way to ensure productivity in the energy efficient building sector would be for the government and private companies to work together to "foster innovation in the development and deployment of next-generation energy-efficiency technologies."

This type of collaborative effort is what the U.S. Department of Energy sought to foster when it named the Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster for Energy Efficient Buildings as its innovation HUB for the sector.

This effort relies on the bright minds available in the Greater Philadelphia region to design and develop technology, and the substantial building stock in the area to deploy the discoveries.