Early this month the U.S. EPA launched its 2011 National Building Competition, “Battle of the Buildings“. 245 buildings from across the country will be battling it out “head to head” to see how much each can reduce energy consumption by a given deadline.
The buildings represent a mix of buildings including 26 different commercial building types and a range of building ages up to 100+. The Competitors will be using EPA’s online tracking tool Energy Star Portfolio Manager to keep track of results.
With the building sector contributing near 20 percent of the country’s energy use and emissions according to the EPA, this competition will help raise awareness and provide practical case studies for a variety of real-world situations.
the competition site even features a tweet stream to follow along with participants’ progress.
The top scoring buildings move on to the finals in July, with an overall winner announced in November.
Yes, it’s true. While I was waiting for a TransBay bus near Civic Center at 2 am a couple weeks ago (not something I do often), I was thinking about energy efficiency.
I took the following (terrible) cell phone photo of the Federal Building from Market Street:
And I wondered, “Why are all those lights on?”
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There are a number of reasons that entire floors of lights might be on in a building in the middle of the night. Reasons could include:
- Cleaning crews come in after workers leave and turn all the lights on a floor on
- A few folks are working really, really late and can only control large areas of lights
- Sensors or timers that turn off the lights are not functioning properly
- Nobody knows how to turn off the lights
But the San Francisco Federal Building is touted as a high-performance low-energy building. And someone else has previously noticed lights on late at night. So what’s going on?
I’m going to see what I can find out in the next week or two and will write a follow-up post.
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More information on the San Francisco Federal Building is available from the architects (Morphosis), Flex Your Power, the San Francisco Chronicle, and a case study by Rocky Mountain Institute.
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The Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) just released two technical reports on how to achieve 50% energy savings in both new and existing large office buildings and large hospitals.
You can download the full report, “Technical Support Document: Strategies for 50% Energy Savings in Large Office Buildings,” as a pdf here.
You can download the other full report, “Large Hospital 50% Energy Savings: Technical Support Document,” as a pdf here.
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A number of start-up companies are trying to formulate a business model that sells hot water, lights, air conditioning, and solar power as a service.
The rationale is that the folks occupying buildings don’t necessarily want to own the equipment that produces hot water, light, cool air, or solar power, but they do want the end result.
The current model is that the companies (such as Skyline Innovations and Metrus Energy) retrofit commercial and industrial buildings, retain ownership of the equipment, and then charge a fee for the energy avoided. Because the fee is almost always less than the cost of the energy avoided, and because the maintenance costs of the equipment are generally included in the fee, the building owner can see further savings.
You can read more about this at Greentech Media.
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