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Commercial Sector: Buildings and Equipment

Commercial buildings account for 19% of the energy consumed in the United States. The types of buildings that use more than two-thirds of that energy are office and retail buildings, educational and health-care buildings, and lodging. More than half the energy used by commercial buildings goes toward heating and lighting. Opportunities for commercial buildings include improving the operations and maintenance of existing buildings, and finding ways to deal with the split incentives that often occur between the bill-payers and the tenants of the building. Additionally, in many cases (particularly in schools and public buildings) capital is not always readily available for efficiency improvements.

Whole Buildings

The value of energy efficiency in properly implemented construction standards is universally recognized as the easiest and most cost-effective way to help consumers save energy and money, make housing more affordable, and reduce air pollution. All...
The “building envelope” refers to the external walls, windows, roof, and floor of a building. This barrier between indoors and outdoors is important with regards to ventilation and insulation of a conditioned space. A “tighter...
Building performance efforts seek to improve the energy performance of existing buildings by taking a comprehensive approach to improving their energy efficiency, comfort and productivity. Building performance initiatives address building systems...
Building owners and potential purchasers and renters rarely have access to the information they need to understand the energy efficiency of a given building and opportunities for improvement. This information can motivate owners to upgrade their...
Commissioning is a quality assurance process for new construction projects that begins with pre-design and continues through design, construction, and early operation.  Commissioning is intended to ensure that building systems and equipment...
HVAC systems are comprised of the heating, air conditioning, and ventilation systems in a residential or commercial building. These mechanical systems provide thermal comfort and air quality in indoor spaces.  Types of HVAC systems...
Office buildings make up the largest sector of building type within the commercial sector, comprising 17% of all commercial buildings in the U.S, as well as 17% of the energy. There are many efficiency opportunities in both existing office...
Public buildings (buildings owned by the federal or local government) represent a significant portion of buildings in the U.S., and therefore a large potential for energy efficiency savings. Federal buildings are already required to purchase...
America' existing housing stock offers tremendous opportunities for energy savings. However, capturing this savings potential within the established structure of the home improvement market has proven to be quite a challenge. Homeowners...
Windows include typical single- double- or triple-paned residential fenestration, as well as commercial building glazing. Windows are generally less efficient than walls, and are also a common site for air infiltration. Energy-efficient windows...
Building modeling and simulation is a growing discipline. Modeling software can be used to estimate a building’s projected energy and water use, as well as building performance, during the design phase of construction. Modeling can also be...
The goal of good energy efficient building design is to minimize energy consumption while providing healthy indoor environments. Poor indoor air quality can result from inadequate or inappropriate ventilation. In commercial office spaces, Sick...
New construction has many more opportunities for the integration of energy efficiency measures than existing buildings. Often retrofits of measures like wall insulation are cost prohibitive for existing buildings but inexpensive for new...
(For information on emergency power and associated utility rates for distributed energy, see Standby Rates.) Standby, or “phantom” power is the power used by electronics and appliances when they’re not performing their main...
Pulling emerging technologies from the R&D stage into the market is a critical step for reducing energy consumption while maintaining economic growth well into the future.  In light of this need, ACEEE has been tracking new energy-...

Equipment

Residential air conditioning accounts for around 5% of the electricity consumed in the U.S. Residential air conditioning technologies include window air conditioners, central air conditioners, heat pumps, passive cooling, and alternatives to air...
Boilers are used for heating residential and commercial spaces via hot water or, less commonly, steam. Residential boiler efficiency is rated in AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency). The higher the AFUE, the more efficient the boiler. ...
Consumer electronics include electronics used for entertainment, office equipment, or telecom. As the number of these electronics per household increased in recent years, so too has the energy use in this sector. Standby power (power that the...
Opportunities for energy savings in food preparation come from more efficient appliances and equipment as well as behavioral changes. Appliance selection, cooking and food prep practices, higher-efficiency equipment and new cooking technologies...
Minimum efficiency standards for commercial equipment have been one of the most successful policies used by states and the federal government to save energy. Equipment efficiency standards prohibit the production and import or sale of appliances...
Furnaces provide space heating through the delivery of forced warm air via ducts.  They are the most common form of space heating in U.S. homes and are used to a lesser extent in commercial buildings. Residential furnace efficiency is rated...
In the residential sector, lighting is used indoors and out to provide ambient light and meet task-specific lighting needs, for decorative purposes, and to provide security. Commercial lighting applications are more varied and include indoor...
Office equipment is one of the fastest-growing electricity uses in commercial buildings in the United States. It directly consumes 7% of total commercial electric energy, which translates into $1.8 billion in electricity costs to businesses....
Refrigeration systems account for about 10 percent of electricity use in the commercial sector. About two-thirds of this is consumed by "packaged" refrigeration systems, which are factory-built units. Commercial refrigerators and...
The evolution of the traffic signal market is a true energy efficiency success story. Prior to 2000, most traffic signals used incandescent lights. Through ENERGY STAR, municipal, and state and utility market transformation programs, light...
Distribution transformers reduce the voltage of an electric utility’s power distribution line to the lower voltages suitable for most of the equipment, lighting, and appliances in businesses and homes. They are constantly energized, and they...
Water heating includes residential and commercial hot water systems. Water heating consumes 12% of residential energy and 7% of commercial energy. Energy efficient technologies include condensing gas water heaters, gas and electric tankless...
Elevator energy consumption in North American office buildings is generally considered to be about 5% of building electricity use (for buildings with central air conditioning). In general, hydraulic elevators used in relatively low-rise buildings...
Standardized, accepted, test procedures for characterizing the energy performance of building components and equipment are necessary for developing building codes and efficiency standards. These rating methods also underlie policies that promote...
(For information on emergency power and associated utility rates for distributed energy, see Standby Rates.) Standby, or “phantom” power is the power used by electronics and appliances when they’re not performing their main...
Pulling emerging technologies from the R&D stage into the market is a critical step for reducing energy consumption while maintaining economic growth well into the future.  In light of this need, ACEEE has been tracking new energy-...

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