As published in Scotsman Guide's Commercial Edition, March 2010.
Commercial building-owners are seeking ways to make their properties more energy-efficient and potentially more attractive to some lenders. Further, energy-saving techniques in buildings can pay for themselves more quickly than other carbon-reduction activities, says Dru Crawley, who heads the Commercial Real Estate Energy Alliance within the Net-Zero Commercial Building Initiative at the Energy Department's Building Technologies Program. Crawley tells us more.
What are the Net-Zero Commercial Building Initiative's goals?
We work with building-owners to help them get through the obstacles [to becoming more energy-efficient] — whether technical, policy or cost — of first getting to low-energy buildings and then on to zero-energy buildings, which produce as much energy as they use over the course of a year. We have a target of [seeing] market-ready, net-zero-energy buildings by 2025. We've defined "market-ready" as having a payback of five years or less.
Within that, how does the Commercial Real Estate Energy Alliance work?
Around 40 commercial real estate firms are members. [The alliance] provides them real-time access to advanced technologies and analytical tools from the Department of Energy and the national energy laboratories. [It also] shares strategies for integrating advanced, high-performance technologies or processes in their facilities and provides greater consistency in energy-efficient program design and delivery. Members also share best practices.
How does the initiative help building-owners reach their energy goals?
[In our] commercial building partnerships, we help individual organizations work through the technical design and implementation aspects of a low-energy building. We often start by evaluating how energy is used in the building.
How are building-owners working to lower their energy consumption?
Knowing where the energy is going often is their first step. [They ask]: How does my building compare with other buildings? Where should I start benchmarking the existing performance of the buildings? How does it compare to peers in the industry but also within my portfolio?
Some of our partners on the retail side employ energy-information systems, which aggregate utility-bill information. Some of the larger players have real-time monitoring of utility information. Wal-Mart, for example, says that it can tell if a refrigerator door has been opened anywhere in one of its stores nationwide. It can see the spike in energy use and can call the store and say, "Hey, your [refrigerator] door is ajar."
Ivanna C. Sukkar is senior associate editor at Scotsman Guide. Reach her at (800) 297-6061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.