WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced the first phase of awards, valued at $15 million, for the Net-Zero Energy Commercial Building Initiative (CBI). Twenty-one companies, which will include retailers, financial institutions and commercial real estate firms, will team with two of DOE’s National Laboratories to speed market adoption of current energy-saving technologies and produce real-building design solutions yielding significant, measurable energy savings in their commercial buildings.
“The Net-Zero Commercial Building Initiative is designed to achieve real, substantive change in commercial buildings,” DOE Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy John Mizroch said. “We must work together with the private sector to shape our practices and define cost-effective solutions. By leveraging our resources with partners in the commercial sector, we can accelerate the adoption of clean, energy efficient technologies that will help our nation achieve the President’s goal of reducing carbon emissions and improving energy security.”
DOE requested proposals from its National Labs and private sector companies to achieve cost-effective savings of 50 percent above the standard set by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers for new commercial building designs, and a savings of 30 percent for retrofits to existing buildings. Each private sector company proposed to have their design and facility management team work with DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to design, build, tune and operate at least one new prototype building and to retrofit an existing building project for 50 percent and 30 percent energy savings, respectively. The funding provides access to the labs unique expertise in low-energy building design and retrofit. These real building projects will provide unprecedented insight into private sector decision processes, business models, and financial drivers for achieving low-energy buildings.
In identifying approaches that can be replicated across the nation, each National Lab will provide technical experts to assist researchers, building professionals, the construction industry, and component and equipment suppliers. These buildings experts will use cutting-edge efficiency technologies and on-site renewable energy generation to offset their energy use from the electricity grid. Awards will include continuation decision points and may be partially funded in future fiscal years, depending on project success and annual appropriations.
The awards, which are in the form of technical assistance provided to DOE’s PNNL and NREL, have attracted some of the biggest names in retail, commercial real estate and financial institutions, including:
In 2007, commercial buildings consumed about 19 percent of U.S. energy and accounted for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. In May, DOE announced the completion of 500 industrial energy saving assessments to some of the nation’s largest industrial facilities. Those assessments helped companies identify opportunities to save over an estimated 80 trillion British Thermal Units of natural gas – roughly equivalent to the natural gas used in over one million American homes – more than $800 million in potential energy savings. Companies interested in accessing DOE energy saving resources can get more details on the Save Energy Now website and request brochures detailing 15 Tips to Help Your Plant Save Energy.