Investing in Energy Efficiency Pays


The Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) conducted a post-occupancy study of 25 LEED commercial projects in Illinois and just published the first round of results from their research.  The Regional Green Building Case Study Project is one of the first post-occupancy studies to measure energy performance, greenhouse gases emissions, water use, transportation effects, construction and occupancy costs, health benefits, and occupancy comfort on a regional scale.  Although CNT found that some LEED projects perform better than others, they also determined that investing in energy efficiency pays off. 

More specifically, CNT found that LEED projects that obtained a higher number of EA Credit 1 points performed better than those that didn't.  In other words, projects that prioritized energy performance performed better than those that don't or than those that focused on other aspects of LEED certification. 

The study also found that since building performance — a function of use, occupancy, operations, maintenance, and systems — changes over time, a building's best benchmark is its own performance, as opposed to comparisons to other buildings or modeled predictions. 

As it goes, projects need to understand actual post-occupancy performance in actual operating conditions.  Projects can get this information through ongoing performance measurement and analysis.  And once provided with the information, owners can then set meaningful, realistic, achievable, and continuous improvement goals. 

The Regional Green Building Case Study Project reinforces the USGBC's recent push for building performance with the Building Performance Initiative.  LEED 2009 projects have Minimum Program Requirements, of which, energy and water data sharing is mandatory (when not excepted).  While the USGBC will be using the information to inform future iterations of LEED, project teams can look at their own performance data to understand how to improve actual post-occupancy performance.  It's a step in the right direction. 

The Center for Neighborhood Technology will continue their research with a second phase later this fall.  You can read up on their first phase by downloading these files:

[PDF] Regional Green Building Case Study
[PDF] Executive Summary: Regional Green Building Case Study

  • Anonymous

    We want to ensure that we are building LEED Cerifited building that upholds the correct standards. I agree that LEED project teams should look at their own performance data to understand how to improve actual post-occupancy performance. This will help for future LEED projects to come.

  • Al Gibson

    People are using solar (technology) more and more because the technology has arrived at the place where it is affordable for the average person to experiment with. Makes sense that people want to save money, too. Al

  • Richard

    Hopefully, in due time, people would come to accept the change and welcome environmentalism in their lives.

  • Richard

    Given enough hardwork, effort and dedication, I bet we’d be solving the problem of climate change.

  • Kansas City Real Estate Broker

    Good info. I am still looking at solar and wind as future sources for the mainstream that takes us away from the “dirty” energy we use now. Over time this will occur… but we need it now!!!

  • Sophie Tresxia Collin

     As we are gearing toward the future, it is now being clearer in our heads that being an LEED certified building or simply being a green building is a good investment for our money. This is because as we use our money from buying and using energy efficient products we are then saving more of it by saving on electricity bills and the likes. One kind of this energy efficient product that I can share is called window tint. Green oriented sites such as discuss how window tints can be labeled as one of the most effective way to conserve energy consumption for less compared to other green related technology. Green products such as window tints would be a great idea in pursuing green buildings or even green homes and green cars.

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