- Air Barrier Systems in Buildings
- Air Decontamination
- Alternative Energy
- Balancing Security/Safety and Sustainability Objectives
- Biomass for Electricity Generation
- Biomass for Heat
- Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV)
- Combined Heat and Power (CHP)
- Cool Metal Roofing
- Distributed Energy Resources (DER)
- Electric Lighting Controls
- Electrical Safety
- Energy Analysis Tools
- Energy Codes and Standards
- Energy Efficient Lighting
- Extensive Vegetative Roofs
- Facility Performance Evaluation (FPE)
- Fuel Cell Flexibility and Sustainability
- Fuel Cells and Renewable Hydrogen
- Geothermal Electric Technology
- Geothermal Energy - Direct-Use
- Geothermal Heat Pumps
- High-Performance HVAC
- Life-Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA)
- Mold and Moisture Dynamics
- Natural Ventilation
- Net Zero Energy Buildings
- Passive Solar Heating
- Reliability-Centered Maintenance (RCM)
- Renovating Research Laboratories for Zero Carbon by 2030
- Retrofitting Existing Buildings to Improve Sustainability and Energy Performance
- Smart Controls
- Solar Ventilation Air Preheating
- Solar Water Heating
- Sun Control and Shading Devices
- Sustainable Laboratory Design
- Sustainable O&M Practices
- Water Conservation
- Wind Technology
- Windows and Glazing
Optimize Energy Use
Last updated: 11-12-2015
Within This Page
On an annual basis, buildings in the United States consume 36% of America's energy and 65% of its electricity. Furthermore, buildings emit 30% of the carbon dioxide (the primary greenhouse gas associated with climate change), 49% of the sulfur dioxide, and 25% of the nitrogen oxides found in the air. (Source: EPA) Currently, the vast majority of this energy is produced from non-renewable, fossil fuel resources. With uncertainty over the availability of fossil fuels into the future, rising demand for fossil fuels, rising concerns over energy security (both for general supply and specific needs of facilities), and the potential that greenhouse gases may be negatively affecting the world's climate, it is essential to find ways to reduce load, increase efficiency, and utilize renewable fuel resources in facilities of all types.
During the facility design and development process, building projects must have a comprehensive, integrated perspective that seeks to:
- Reduce heating, cooling, and lighting loads through climate-responsive design and conservation practices;
- Employ renewable energy sources such as daylighting, passive solar heating, photovoltaics, geothermal, and groundwater cooling;
- Specify efficient HVAC and lighting systems that consider part-load conditions and utility interface requirements;
- Optimize building performance by employing energy modeling programs and optimize system control strategies by using occupancy sensors CO2 sensors and other air quality alarms;
- Monitor project performance through a policy of commissioning, metering, annual reporting, and periodic re-commissioning; and
- Integrate water saving technologies to reduce the energy burden of providing potable water.
Apply this process to the reuse, renovation or repair of existing buildings as well.
2004 ASLA Award Recipients (Photos: Nancy Rottle)
Reduce Heating, Cooling, and Lighting Loads through Climate-Responsive Design and Conservation Practices
- Use passive solar design; orient, size, and specify windows; and locate landscape elements with solar geometry and building load requirements in mind.
- Use high-performance building envelopes; select walls, roofs, and other assemblies based on long-term insulation, air barrier performance, and durability requirements.
- Consider an integrated landscape design that provides deciduous trees for summer shading, appropriate planting for windbreaks, and attractive outdoor spaces so that occupants wish to be outdoors—thereby reducing the occupant driven additional heat load to the building.
Employ Renewable or High-Efficiency Energy Sources
- Renewable energy sources include solar water heating, photovoltaic (PV), wind, biomass, and geothermal. Use of renewable energy can increase energy security and reduce dependence on imported fuels, while reducing or eliminating greenhouse gas emissions associated with energy use. Consider solar thermal for domestic hot water and heating purposes.
- Evaluate the use of building scale to take advantage of on-site renewable energy technologies such as daylighting, solar water heating, and geothermal heat pumps.
- Consider the use of larger scale, on-site renewable energy technologies such as photovoltaics, solar thermal, and wind turbines.
- Evaluate purchasing electricity generated from renewable sources or low polluting sources such as natural gas.
Specify Efficient HVAC and Lighting Systems
- Use energy efficient HVAC equipment and systems that meet or exceed 10 CFR 434. For Department of Defense facilities, refer to the standards within UFC 1-200-02 High Performance and Sustainable Building Requirements.
- Use lighting systems that consume less than 1 watt/square foot for ambient lighting.
- Use Energy Star® approved and/or FEMP-designated energy efficient products or products that meet or exceed Department of Energy standards.
- Evaluate energy recovery systems that pre-heat or pre-cool incoming ventilation air in commercial and institutional buildings.
- Investigate the use of integrated generation and delivery systems, such as co-generation, fuel cells, and off-peak thermal storage. See also WBDG Distributed Energy Resources (DER) and Microturbines.
Optimize Building Performance and System Control Strategies
- Employ energy modeling programs early in the design process.
- Use sensors to control loads based on occupancy, schedule and/or the availability of natural resources such as daylight or natural ventilation.
- Evaluate the use of modular components such as boilers or chillers to optimize part-load efficiency and maintenance requirements.
- Evaluate the use of Smart Controls that merge building automation systems with information technology (IT) infrastructures.
- Employ an interactive energy management tool that allows you to track and assess energy and water consumption like the Energy Star® Portfolio Manager.
- Employ centralized remote meter reading and management to provide accurate analysis of energy use and monitor power quality.
- Use a comprehensive, building commissioning plan throughout the life of the project.
- Use metering to confirm building energy and environmental performance through the life of the project.
- Provide electronic interactive graphic dashboards in prominent locations to educate occupants of their building's energy and water consumption and highlight sustainable building features.
- See also WBDG Facility Performance Evaluation.
Deep Energy Retrofits
A deep energy retrofit is a whole-building analysis and construction process that achieves much larger energy cost savings than those of simpler energy retrofits such as upgrading lighting and HVAC equipment. In taking a whole-building approach, deep energy retrofits address many systems at once by combining energy efficient measures such as energy-efficient equipment, air sealing, moisture management, controlled ventilation, insulation, and solar control. Resources available to identify deep energy retrofit design opportunities are available from Rocky Mountain Institute® and Advanced Energy Retrofit Guides are available from the Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy.
Sustainability and Energy Security
Energy independence and security are important components of national security and energy strategies. Today, power is mostly generated by massive centralized plants, and electricity moves along transmission lines. Energy independence can be achieved, in part, by minimizing energy consumption through energy conservation, energy efficiency, and by generating energy from local, renewable sources, such as wind, solar, geothermal, etc. (see WBDG Distributed Energy Resources, Fuel Cell Technology, Microturbines, Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV), Daylighting, Passive Solar Heating) Additionally, using distributed energy systems adds to building resiliency as the threats of natural disaster damage become more frequent.
Building automation systems (BAS), Industrial Control Systems (ICS) and Supervisory Control and Date Acquisition (SCADA) are vulnerable to attack through the Internet. Cyber criminals can access these systems to disable controls disrupt energy and water systems and even destroy equipment. Ensure these systems are protected from these intrusions by employing cybersecurity measures.
Net Zero Energy Buildings, Campuses and Communities. The confusion caused by the existence of innumerable definitions of net zero energy has made it difficult to specify and compare the performance of net zero energy buildings around the country. Recognizing this, the U.S. Department of Energy in collaboration with the National Institute of Building Sciences recently released a common definition for a zero energy building, also referred to as a "net zero energy" or "zero net energy" building. This common definition for a zero energy building states that a Zero Energy Building is "an energy-efficient building where, on a source energy basis, the actual annual delivered energy is less than or equal to the on-site renewable exported energy." This definition also applies to campuses, portfolios and communities. In addition to providing clarity across the industry, this new DOE publication provides important guidelines for measurement and implementation, specifically explaining how to utilize this definition for building projects.
Combined heat and power (CHP), or cogeneration, is the simultaneous generation of useful mechanical and thermal energy in a single, integrated system. Consider CHP at project onset to increase industrial efficiency and decrease unnecessary fuel consumption. CHP has the ability to divert renewable energy to critical infrastructure.
Microgrids; Per the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) a microgrid is an interconnected set of electricity sources and loads that falls under a common method of control. Microgrids typically integrate small-scale renewable energy generation like photovoltaics (PV) with natural gas turbines and even fuel cells. With the potential disruption of power due to man-caused and weather-related events to critical facilities like hospitals, data centers, and laboratories microgrids can provide islanding to insulate facilities from outages. University campuses and military bases can also benefit from microgrids.
Roof-mounted PV on carport, North Island Naval Base, San Diego, CA
Net Zero Energy Buildings Executive Order 13693 requires all new Federal buildings that are entering the planning process in 2020 be 'designed to achieve zero-net-energy by 2030.' There are also commercial building and residential programs promoting net-zero energy. Examples of commercial, residential and government net-zero energy buildings exist and can provide guidance for the development of future net-zero energy buildings.
Passive survivability, which is described as the ability of a facility to provide shelter and basic occupant needs during and after disaster events without electric power is becoming a design strategy to consider, particularly in areas of the country where storms and floods have been reoccurring annually or more often. Incorporate facility survivability concepts in the design of critical facilities, including on-site renewable energy sources that will be available to power the building soon after a major storm passes. Checklist for Passive Survivability
Green Walls or Vertical Gardens are beginning to appear as a design element in urban buildings. Be sure they do not conflict with site security requirements including Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED).
Relevant Codes, Laws, and Standards
Codes and Laws
- Energy Codes and Standards
- Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA 2007)
- Energy Policy Act of 2005
- Executive Order 13221, "Energy Efficient Standby Power Devices"
- Executive Order 13693, "Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade"
- ASHRAE 90.1 Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings
- ASHRAE 100 Energy Efficiency in Existing Buildings
- ASHRAE 189.1 Standard for the Design of Green Buildings, except Low-Rise Residential Buildings
- Department of Defense
- UFC-1-200-02, High Performance and Sustainable Building Requirements
- International Green Construction Code (IgCC), International Code Council
- U.S. General Services Administration
- P100 Facilities Standards for the Public Buildings Service by the General Services Administration (GSA)
Building Types / Space Types
Applicable to most building types and space types, especially high energy users such as Health Care Facilities, Hospital, Research Facilities, Automated Data Processing: Mainframe, Automated Data Processing: PC System, Laboratory: Dry, Laboratory: Wet
Aesthetics—Engage the Integrated Design Process, Cost-Effective, Functional / Operational, Historic Preservation—Update Building Systems Appropriately, Productive, Secure / Safe, Sustainable—Optimize Site Potential, Sustainable—Protect and Conserve Water, Sustainable—Optimize Building Space and Material Use, Sustainable—Enhance Indoor Environmental Quality, Sustainable—Optimize Operational and Maintenance Practices
Products and Systems
Section 23 28 13: Commercial—Kitchen Hoods, Section 23 31 00: HVAC Ducts and Casings, Section 23 05 93: Testing, Adjusting, and Balancing for HVAC, Building Envelope Design Guide—Sustainability of the Building Envelope
Federal Green Construction Guide for Specifiers:
- 01 91 00 (01810) Commissioning
- 03 30 00 (03300) Cast-In-Place Concrete
- 03 40 00 (03400) Precast Concrete
- 04 20 00 (04200) Unit Masonry
- 07 20 00 (07200) Thermal Protection
- 07 30 00 (07300) Steep Slope Roofing
- 07 50 00 (07500) Membrane Roofing
- 07 92 00 (07900) Joint Sealants
- 08 14 00 (08210) Wood Doors
- 08 50 00 (08500) Windows
- 11 13 00 (11160) Loading Dock Equipment
- 11 28 00 (11680) Office Equipment
- 11 30 00 (11450) Residential Equipment
- 12 10 00 (12100) Artwork
- 14 20 00 (14200) Elevators
- 23 30 00 (15800) HVAC Air Distribution
- 23 70 00 (15700) Central HVAC Equipment
- 26 50 00 (16500) Lighting
- 48 14 00 (13600) Solar Energy Electrical Power Generation Equipment
- 48 15 00 (13600) Wind Energy Electrical Power Generation Equipment
- 48 30 00 (13600) Biomass Energy Electrical Power Generation Equipment
- Buildings Performance Database, DOE EERE
Minimize Energy Consumption
- ASHRAE Advanced Energy Design Guides
- Energy Design Resources
- Energy Star®, EPA
- Energy Star® for New Building Design
- Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP), DOE
- Federal Research and Develop Agenda for Net-Zero Energy, High-Performance Green Buildings (PDF 2.8 MB), National Science and Technology Council Report October 2008
- WBDG case studies
Employ Renewable or High-Efficiency Energy Sources
- Guide to Integrating Renewable Energy in Federal Construction, Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP)
- National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
- Photovoltaics Program, Sandia National Laboratory
Specify Efficient HVAC and Lighting Systems
- 10 CFR 434 Subpart A
- FEMP Buying Energy Efficient Products
- Lighting Research Center
- Technology Performance Exchange™, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). TPEx allows building users, product manufacturers, and third-party certifiers to access, share, and compare performance data for products and systems using an online tool.
Optimize Building Performance and System Control Strategies
- WBDG: Productive, Functional / Operational—Ensure Appropriate Product/Systems Integration, Functional / Operational—Meet Performance Objectives
- Buildings R&D Breakthroughs: Technologies and Products Supported by the Building Technologies Program (PDF 15.8 MB), U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)
- International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol (IPMVP) Volume 1 (PDF 2.5 MB), U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)
- Building Energy Information Systems: State of the Technology and User Case Studies, (PDF 4.86 MB), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, November 2009
Deep Energy Retrofit Guides
- Advanced Energy Retrofit Guide for Office Buildings, Energy.Gov
- Advanced Energy Retrofit Guide for Retail Buildings, Energy.Gov
- Advanced Energy Retrofit Guide for Grocery Stores, Energy.Gov
- Advanced Energy Retrofit Guide for K-12 Schools, Energy.Gov
- Advanced Energy Retrofit Guide for Healthcare Facilities, Energy.Gov
- Building the Business Case, Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI)
- How to Calculate and Present Deep Retrofit Value, Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI)
- Identifying Design Opportunities, Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI)
- Managing Deep Retrofits, Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI)
- Army Energy and Water Management Program—Army Vision for Net Zero
- Army Net Zero—Resources for Net Zero energy, water and waste
- Combined Heat and Power for Industrial Revitalization (PDF 6.7 MB) by the Center for Clean Air Policy (CCAP)
- Department of Defense 2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap (PDF 11.6 MB)
- FedCenter.gov—FedCenter, the Federal Facilities Environmental Stewardship and Compliance Assistance Center, is a collaborative effort between the Office of the Federal Environmental Executive (OFEE), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Construction Engineering Research Laboratory, and the U.S. EPA Federal Facilities Enforcement Office. FedCenter replaces the previous FedSite as a one-stop source of environmental stewardship and compliance assistance information focused solely on the needs of federal government facilities.
- GSA Sustainable Facilities Tool (SFTool)—SFTool's immersive virtual environment addresses all your sustainability planning, designing and procurement needs.
- WBDG05 Daylighting Principles and Strategies for Sustainable Design
- WBDG06 Sustainable Roofing Design Considerations and Applications
- WBDG12 Window and Glazing Design Strategies for Sustainable Design
- WBDG14 Building Commissioning Principles and Strategies
- WBDG18 An Integrated Approach to HVAC Design and Performance
- WBDG19 Fuel Cells: Advanced Distributed Generation
- NIA01 Mechanical Insulation Education & Awareness
- FEMP01 Commissioning for Existing Federal Buildings
- FEMP02 Planning an Energy Assessment for Federal Facilities
- FEMP04 Federal On-Site Renewable Power Purchase Agreements
- FEMP05 Advanced Electric Metering in Federal Facilities
- FEMP06 Managing Water Assessment in Federal Facilities
- FEMP07 Selecting, Implementing, and Funding Photovoltaic Systems in Federal Facilities
- FEMP13 Energy-Efficient Federal Purchasing
- FEMP15 Energy Savings Performance Contracting
- FEMP16 Advanced HVAC in High-Tech Buildings—Data Centers
- FEMP17 Adanced HVAC in High-Tech Buildings—Laboratories
- FEMP19 Fundamentals of Life Cycle Costing for Energy Conservation
- FEMPFTS8 Energy Savings Performance Contracts
- FEMPFTS10 Renewable Energy
- FEMPFTS13 Energy-Efficient Product Procurement
- FEMPFTS14 New Lighting Technologies
- FEMPFTS15 Achieving Energy-Efficient Data Centers with New ASHRAE Thermal Guidelines
- FEMPFTS16 Selecting and Evaluating New and Underused Energy Technologies
- FEMPFTS17 Achieving Energy Security in Federal Facilities
- FEMPFTS19 Implementing Deep Retrofits: A Whole Building Approach
- FEMPFTS21 Combined Heat and Power: An Integrated Approach to Energy Resources
- FEMPFTS22 Solid-State Lighting: Highlighting Indoor Applications
- FEMPFTS24 Goal-Based Contracting for Energy Efficient Buildings
- FEMPFTS25 New Developments in Federal Building Energy Efficiency Standards
- FEMPFTS26 Energy Efficiency Expert Evaluations