Study highlights potential, room for improvement in energy efficient buildings sector

June 25, 2012

The number of energy efficient buildings in the U.S. has risen sharply in the past decade, but there is much more room for growth in the real estate market for these sustainable and green properties.

A new study from Siemens Building Technologies Division and McGraw-Hill Construction outlined how many of the public and private commercial buildings have a long way to go on the path to sustainable and energy efficient operations.

The study explored industry trends associated with specific operational improvements, along with the impediments to progress that often exist in an emerging sector.

"We recognize that greater adoption of energy efficiency and sustainability practices within buildings is critical to address our nation's challenges in the areas of infrastructure, climate change and continued economic vibrancy," said Brad Haeberle, senior director and head of Building Automation Service for Siemens Building Technologies Division. "Fortunately, our research finds that despite continued economic uncertainty, our nation's business and industry leaders are rising to the challenge and making high-performing buildings a reality."

According to the study, owners have reported significant business benefits from their investments in high performance building improvements, especially when related to smart grid technology. 

A marked change can be seen, as the authors noted that owners saw ROI increases of 13 percent for office buildings, 18 percent for healthcare facilities and 15 percent for higher education buildings.

"These investments reported by owners indicate that there are opportunities in the market for product manufacturers, service providers and others that can offer the technologies and expertise to help owners move their buildings along the path to higher performance," said Harvey M. Bernstein, vice president of Market Insights & Alliances for McGraw-Hill.

Specific components of buildings, such as lighting, have proven to be easier and more cost-beneficial to improve than others.

EE Times reported that intelligent lighting solutions that have been offered by smart grid technology can significantly limit energy use and consumption levels.

LED technology has emerged as the choice for lighting across all sectors, as building owners have continued to transition to these products as a way of controlling costs and dealing with the demand for efficient products, according to the news outlet.

While this technology exists, convincing building owners to adopt these products is a different story.

This is the goal of the Energy Efficient Buildings Hub (EEB Hub), as this consortium of institutions from academia, the private sector, government and energy development industry is looking to transform the national market by using commercial buildings in the Greater Philadelphia as a model for adoption.