Reshaping commercial real estate through the Better Buildings Challenges

May 31, 2012

The U.S. government has continued to push for more energy efficient practices across a number of sectors, as it is looking to highlight how making upgrades to old and outdated technology can not only help the environment, but will also lead to lower costs for companies.

One specific area, commercial real estate, has received a significant amount of attention, with agencies like the Department of Energy (DOE) looking to cut back on the 40 percent of overall U.S. energy consumption that these structures are responsible for.

The DOE designated a specific effort to promote the use of more green and sustainable practices in the sector, as the Energy Efficient Buildings Hub (EEB Hub) is using federal funding to promote the use of retrofits to cut costs and consumption associated with commercial structures.

The EEB Hub, headquartered at the historic Philadelphia Navy Yard, is comprised of institutions from academia, the government, private sector and energy development industry, and is working with companies in the region to transform the building stock of the city. Retrofit projects are being demonstrated at the site in order to show the benefits of adopting energy efficient practices to lower operating costs for structures.

According to GreenBiz, the DOE is also working on its Better Buildings Challenge, which requires the participation of 60 organizations across the country that have pledged to lower their energy consumption by 20 percent by the year 2020.

Although the program is reliant upon these organizations meeting specific standards for reducing energy consumption, the ever-changing world of technology has led certain measures of efficiency to become outdated.

The availability of more efficient products and new monitoring systems has allowed people within the industry to up their standards, but these alterations often do not keep up with the progression of technology.

"Just because a building was efficient once doesn't mean it's always efficient," Maria Vargas, director of the DOE program, told the news outlet. "Think about if we labeled computers for their high-techiness and how often that needs to change."

Organizations like the California Public Utilities Commission have updated and approved more energy efficiency goals, as the organization felt that previous standards were not up to par due to the progression of technology in the sector, according to the National Resources Defense Council blog.