US: Here’s how to scale energy-saving commercial building retrofits

(ACEEE blog, 4 May 2022) Comprehensive retrofits of commercial buildings can reduce their energy use by up to 40% but are not happening anywhere near the scale needed to meet climate goals, according to a report released today by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

With new federal funds available for such energy-saving upgrades, the report offers a roadmap for how utilities and policymakers can start or expand robust retrofit programs that include more than just lighting.

The research finds that more utility programs have emerged in recent years to offer “deep” or “comprehensive” commercial retrofits. These retrofits include multiple energy efficiency measures that often upgrade heating, cooling, lighting, and other systems. Yet there are still far too few of these programs, which deliver energy savings 2.5 to 7 times greater than approaches involving single measures such as lighting—often the easiest step.

Deep retrofits are critical for climate action. More than half of U.S. commercial buildings were built before 2000. They do not meet today’s more efficient codes and often lack products and technologies that can save the most energy. Even many newer buildings that comply with more-recent codes do not perform as intended, either due to faulty installation, lack of maintenance, or normal wear and tear.

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ACEEE blog, 4 May 2022: US: Here’s how to scale energy-saving commercial building retrofits