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.
We all know there's money in energy efficiency, but sometimes, it's hard to justify the upfront costs to receive the benefits over time. When crunching the numbers, it helps to recall the Energy Pie Chart that Steven Chu posted to his Facebook recently — lighting accounts for 26% of energy use in commercial buildings! Which is why Holiday Inn will save ~$4.4 million annually as they swap out their neon and fluorescent signage for super efficient LED signage.
In the mid-1980s, Amory Lovins, co-founder, chairman, and chief scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute, built an efficient, 4,000 square foot home in Colorado for living and working. By today’s thinking, the home is a little larger than most greenies would prefer, but it was built to be 90% more efficient than a traditional home of its size. That’s pretty impressive, especially at a time when the panels on the roof of the White House were being taken down for “repair.”
About two days after hearing that Coolerado had won the Western Cooling Challenge for the hybrid commercial version of this technology, I saw this on a newly built home. This is what appears to be the M50 Coolerado. Coolerado says they have the most efficient air conditioning system made — it uses up to 90% less electricity than a traditional air conditioner, depending on the humidity and elevation above sea level. High and dry works best; see how:
We've all heard the numbers before, but here's a nice little chart with a helpful breakdown of information. Buildings account for roughly 40% of all U.S. energy use. Or stated with more particularity, residential buildings account for 22% of all U.S. energy use and commercial buildings account for 18% of all U.S. energy use. When you parse the numbers out, here's where that energy is used: