The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) just-completed Smart Energy Analytics Campaign, facilitated by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), has reportedly created the world's largest collection of building energy analytics, highlighting the benefits of energy management and information systems (EMIS) in commercial buildings like offices and retail spaces.
The four-year DOE campaign supported the installation or expansion of EMIS in over 6,500 buildings, helping 104 businesses, universities, governments and entities save $95 million collectively in energy costs, according to the Berkeley Lab. Participants saved an average of $3 million in annual energy costs.
The campaign found that if buildings across the commercial sector adopt EMIS best practices, the savings in annual energy costs would amount to $4 billion nationwide.
Buildings are responsible for 40% of the energy used in the U.S., according to the Berkeley Lab, which illustrates the potential for EMIS to support sustainability goals through the monitoring and controlling of this energy use. EMIS, which can cost up to eight cents per square foot for installation and software costs, can also pay for itself in about two years, according to DOE campaign findings.
"The work proved the value of smart buildings. We found that investment in analytics provided deep savings with a two-year payback," said Berkeley Lab Staff Scientist Jessica Granderson in a video statement. "With the business case established, we can imagine a future where advanced control and analytics for buildings is as mainstream as efficient design and equipment."
Kaiser Permanente healthcare system, for instance, uses an EMIS system in 69 buildings and reports an annual average energy savings of 12%, according to the Berkeley Lab. Meanwhile, the Commonwealth of Kentucky installed an energy management and control system for 1,145 buildings, resulting in an 8% energy savings among a sampling of its various buildings. And Stanford University installed an EMIS system at 315 "housing and food-service operations," ultimately saving $451,000 annually on utility bills, including a 5% reduction in electric bills and 10% reduction in gas bills.
The building sector is a primary target in the fight against climate change, and a number municipalities and private sector organizations have made headway on creating more sustainable buildings this year. The Berkeley Lab says EMIS data can help utilities and policymakers make more informed decisions about energy efficiency programs and policies to advance this activity.
St. Louis, where buildings are responsible for 80% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, recently became the first Midwest city to pass a Building Energy Performance Standard (BEPS) to help the city eliminate communitywide GHG emissions by 2050. Meanwhile the City of San Jose, CA established its Better Buildings program to help reduce GHG emissions in 19 city buildings.
The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) also recently released an expanded suite of resilience tools and resources to help sustain green building initiatives amid the financial pressure created by the COVID-19 pandemic. And Sidewalk Labs released a tool in September that aims to reduce the environmental impact of commercial buildings.