Are energy efficiency improvements unreachable?

A study released by NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Assn., suggests that office building managers find it difficult--if not impossible--to effectively balance energy efficiency requirements while keeping their structures economically feasible.


According to a recent report, building managers will find it extremely challenging to meet mandated energy reduction targets while keeping their facilities economically feasible.

NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Assn. released the results of a study , initiated to determine if commercial developments could actually achieve reduction targets of 30% to 50% above the ASHRAE 90.1-2004 standard, a benchmark often cited in legislation and calls for mandatory reductions. The NAIOP findings show that while significant energy efficiencies are possible (varying by climate zone), reaching 30% reduction above the standard wouldn’t be feasible with common design approaches and would exceed a 10-year payback—and achieving 50% reduction above the standard isn’t possible.

The study was conducted by ConSol , a Stockton, Calif.-based energy consulting firm. The company modeled their data with the Dept. of Energy’s EnergyPlus v2.2 energy simulation program, using a recently completed four-story, 95,000-sq-ft, Class A office building as a prototype. Research modeled the prototype in three climate zones represented by Chicago, Baltimore, and Newport Beach, Calif. Modeling included enhanced wall and roof insulations; varying levels of exterior glazing; higher-efficiency window assemblies; reduced air infiltration via the installation of an air barrier; reduced lighting power densities; higher-efficiency HVAC equipment; and photovoltaic electricity energy generation.

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