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The Commercial Buildings Integration (CBI) program works to identify and develop strategies and technologies to dramatically reduce commercial building energy consumption. CBI’s efforts focus on highly innovative, cost-effective, energy-saving measures—ones that produce significant energy savings and improve building performance, but are underutilized by the market. These efforts are carried out in collaboration with researchers at national laboratories and partners in industry and business with the goal of dramatically reducing new and existing commercial building energy consumption.

Photo of a city's downtown, with lots of tall office buildings, and a river in the foreground.
On average, 30% of the energy used in commercial buildings is wasted, which presents building owners and managers with a huge opportunity for operating cost savings. Credit: iStockphoto.

Aggressive Energy Savings Goals

CBI’s partnership, workforce, evaluation tools and research and development portfolios target 30% reduction in commercial building energy use intensity from 2010 levels by 2030 and zero commercial building-related greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. CBI works to accelerate the adoption of commercial building solutions that improve building energy performance, enable energy reliability and affordability and maintain comfortable, healthy, productive indoor environments despite disruptive events such as natural disasters, the spread of infectious disease, and grid interruptions.

CBI’s Core Values

  1. Commercial buildings are constructed and operated so that they can consistently adapt and improve to provide optimal energy performance and reduce energy costs to businesses.
  2. Commercial buildings supply comfortable conditions and resilient building services that enable occupant productivity, safety and health.
  3. Commercial buildings are a hub for integrated energy flexibility, generation, and storage to enable clean energy production, distribution and transmission.

Commercial Building Basics

Federal, state, and local governments as well as private companies own, operate and use commercial buildings, which include all nonresidential structures, as well as residential buildings of three stories or more. Commercial buildings are diverse in how they look and are used — they include everything from the corner dry cleaner to hospitals and college campuses to huge data centers and skyscrapers.

Businesses, federal, state, and local governments own, operate, and use 93 billion square feet of U.S. real estate,1 and account for 18 percent (or 18 quadrillion Btu) of U.S. primary energy use2—more than all of Canada's energy consumption—and $190 billion in energy expenditures every year. Commercial buildings consume 13.6 quads of electricity (35 percent of electricity consumed in the U.S),3 and generate 826 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions (16 percent of all U.S. carbon dioxide emissions).4 Reducing energy use in commercial buildings would have tremendous positive impact in our environment and energy security, and would save money that can be used to help grow U.S. businesses. In addition, energy efficiency in commercial buildings creates good, skilled and needed jobs in construction and technology, such as engineers, commissioning agents, energy managers, and building operators.

Energy Savings Potential in Retrofit and New Buildings

The potential to reduce energy consumption in existing and new commercial buildings is enormous. On average, 30% of the energy used in commercial buildings is wasted, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Understanding what drives companies to adopt efficiency improvements is the key to dramatically improve the energy efficiency, and associated greenhouse gas emissions, of commercial buildings. CBI partners with industry, businesses, and other stakeholders through the Better Buildings Initiative, where we identify, document and work to produce intuitive, easy and actionable solutions for commercial building stakeholders.

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1 U.S. Department of Energy—Energy Information Administration. Annual Energy Outlook 2020. Table 5. Commercial Sector Key Indicators and Consumption. https://www.eia.gov/outlooks/aeo. Accessed April 22, 2020.

2 U.S. Department of Energy—Energy Information Administration. Annual Energy Outlook 2020. Table A2 Energy Consumption by Sector and Source. https://www.eia.gov/outlooks/aeo/. Accessed April 22, 2020.

3 Op. cit., Annual Energy Outlook 2020. Table 5.

4 U.S. Department of Energy—Energy Information Administration. Annual Energy Outlook 2020. Table 18. Energy-Related Carbon Dioxide Emissions by Sector and Source. https://www.eia.gov/outlooks/aeo. Accessed April 22, 2020.