The Promise and the Potential of Comprehensive Commercial Building Retrofit Programs

Research Report A1402

Author(s)

Sameer Kwatra and Chiara Essig 

Description:

Commercial buildings consume 20% of the total energy used in the United States, a significant portion of which can be saved through comprehensive retrofits that take into account the interactive effect of the energy use of the various energy systems in the building.

While many utility programs offer incentives for comprehensive retrofits, the participation in such programs has been limited. In this report, we review over 25 programs from across the nation and recommend pathways that program administrators can adopt to increase their market penetration and improve the program outcomes. The report summarizes our key findings along the program life cycle beginning from prospecting and outreach, to design and implementation, and finally monitoring and verification of savings.

Leading programs in this space have innovatively designed incentives that encourage deeper savings. We find that advances in measuring real-time energy-use data and advanced analytical capabilities are creating new opportunities for whole-building assessments, identification of comprehensive savings, and automated monitoring and tracking of energy-systems performance.

Efficiency retrofits provide many non-energy benefits such as health, safety, comfort, and productivity improvements, in addition to energy savings, which can help customers achieve their primary institutional mission and thus make efficiency an even more attractive prospect.