Commercial and Public Building Energy Efficiency
Energy expenditures in privately-owned commercial and public buildings average more than $2 per square foot, making energy use a cost worth managing. Policies that improve the way buildings use energy throughout the building lifecycle, from construction through operation and renovation, are a priority in communities across the country.
Key Focus Areas
Improving energy efficiency in commercial buildings requires a multi-pronged approach that addresses a variety of market needs. To promote solutions for whole-building improvements, SEE Action has identified four key focus areas in commercial and public building efficiency:
- Increase demand for energy efficiency. Improve information through building benchmarking, identify retro-commissioning and retrofit opportunities, facilitate ratepayer-funded programs that address whole-building energy savings, and increase use of public-private partnerships.
- Support data access to drive decision making. Fill potential gaps between benchmarking tools and accessing the utility data necessary to use those benchmarking tools through regulatory policy.
- Enable efficient operations and investment. Adopt comprehensive energy management programs, integrate energy efficiency in leasing practices, and increase the use of successful financing mechanisms.
- Move the market. Implement procurement reform and showcase emerging technologies through public-private partnerships.
SEE Action provides technical and policy decision making information to state and local governments and utility regulators on organization-wide, performance-based policy and program strategies for energy efficiency in public and private commercial buildings. These include:
- Educating policymakers on existing and new policy tools that are informed by and directly tied to actual energy performance - including outcome-based, lifecycle-oriented policies; performance incentives; property valuation and appraisal policies; and utility policy and partnerships.
- Providing policy design guidance on benchmarking and disclosure. Benchmarking is a market-based policy tool which requires the building owner, operator, or manager to measure the building’s energy performance, similar to a fuel economy rating on a vehicle. This information is then used to identify cost-effective opportunities for improvements, and is also made available to the marketplace through a direct disclosure to stakeholders (such as a tenant or a prospective lessee, investor, or lender) or by publication on a publicly accessible web site. This approach helps create a market for efficiency by making building energy performance transparent.
- Providing policy design guidance on energy audits and retro-commissioning. Audits identify a range of opportunities for energy improvement in a building (e.g., operational improvements, simple retrofits and capital improvements) but do not guarantee implementation. Retro-commissioning includes the implementation of the necessary “re-tuning” measures.
- Educating regulators on policy tools to enable commercial and public building owners and operators to access utility data in order to effectively evaluate and seize energy and cost savings opportunities.