Scale Matters: An Action Plan for Realizing Sector-Wide "Zero-Energy" Performance Goals in Commercial Buildings

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Conference Paper

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It is widely accepted that if the United States is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions it must aggressively address energy end use in the building sector. While there have been some notable but modest successes with mandatory and voluntary programs, there have also been puzzling failures to achieve expected savings. Collectively, these programs have not yet reached the majority of the building stock, nor have they yet routinely produced very large savings in individual buildings.

Several trends that have the potential to change this are noteworthy: 1) the growing market interest in "green buildings" and "sustainable design", 2) the major professional societies (e.g. AIA, ASHRAE) have more aggressively adopted significant improvements in energy efficiency as strategic goals, e.g. targeting "zero energy", carbon-neutral buildings by 2030. While this vision is widely accepted as desirable, unless there are significant changes to the way buildings are routinely designed, delivered and operated, zero energy buildings will remain a niche phenomenon rather than a sector-wide reality. Toward that end, a public/private coalition including the Alliance to Save Energy, LBNL, AIA, ASHRAE, USGBC and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) are developing an "action plan" for moving the U.S. commercial building sector towards zero energy performance. It addresses regional action in a national framework; integrated deployment, demonstration and R&D threads; and would focus on measurable, visible performance indicators. This paper outlines this action plan, focusing on the challenge, the key themes, and the strategies and actions leading to substantial reductions in GHG emissions by 2030.


2008 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings, August 17-22, 2008

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