Better Buildings - U.S. Department of Energy





The Better Buildings Bulletin is a bi-monthly feature to help keep you up-to-date on partner successes, program updates, opportunities to participate, and more. To view the Bulletin online, click here.

In This Issue

2019 Summit

Sessions Now Available - Register for the 2019 Better Buildings, Better Plants Summit

Register today for the 2019 Better Buildings, Better Plants Summit July 10-11 in the Washington, D.C. metro area (Arlington, Virginia). Over 50 interactive sessions that address common barriers are now available to view online; filter sessions by track, sector, or speaker to start planning your Summit experience. Don’t miss this opportunity to join fellow energy and sustainability professionals ready to share their innovative strategies in energy and water efficiency. Attendees will engage in lively discussions focused on emerging technologies, financing projects, workforce development, resilience planning, and more. Register now to reserve your place!

Latest News and Announcements

Third-Annual Technology Days a Success

Roughly 50 attendees – including Better Plants partners, prospective partners, and ally organizations – participated in the third-annual Better Plants Technology Days April 9-10 in California’s Bay area. Technology Days are unique opportunities for industrial energy and R&D staff to learn about the exciting technologies under development at the National Labs and the resources that they have to offer. This year’s Technology Days provided the first opportunity to tour two different labs: Lawrence Livermore National Lab and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. The full agenda can be found here.

Los Angeles Unified School District Showcase Project Highlighted

Better Buildings Challenge partner Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) recently held a tour of their showcase project. DOE was among the visitors to LAUSD’s Santee Education Complex and saw firsthand the measures in place that are helping to deliver 30% annual energy savings and $195,000 in annual cost savings. LAUSD’s goal of reducing energy and water use by 20% over the next 10 years includes work across its 70 million square feet of building space. LAUSD is the second-largest district in the nation and serves over 660,000 students with a portfolio of 1,200 schools and associated centers.

REI Distribution Center in Arizona Profiled

Supporting 40% of the Co-op and employing more than 200 people, REI’s distribution center in Goodyear, Arizona is currently achieving 18% energy savings and $170,000 cost savings annually from its baseline in the first two years of operation. To meet an ambitious goal for the facility to be net-zero energy consumption, REI installed a 2.2 MW solar system, expected to power the entire facility.

Back to top

Welcome New Partners!

Better Buildings Challenge

  • MetLife Investment Advisors
  • San Francisco Unified School District

Better Plants

  • Estée Lauder
  • Frito-Lay
  • Graham Packaging
  • Intralox LLC
  • Michels Corporation
  • Shape Corporation
  • United Mechanical and Metal Fabricators

Better Buildings Alliance

  • Brixmor Property Group

Better Buildings Residential Network

  • Energy Circle
  • Home Performance Services
  • International WELL Building Institute
  • Kean University
  • Marketing for Green
  • Montgomery County Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions
  • National Fenestration Rating Council
  • Northeast Natural Homes, Inc.
  • Working in Neighborhoods

New Partner Solutions

The following Implementation Models, Showcase Projects, and Solutions-at-a-Glance demonstrate the hard work and innovative thinking of Better Buildings partners. Check out these replicable solutions and others in the Better Buildings Solution Center.

New Implementation Model

HEROES for Zero: Building a K-12 Energy Efficiency Framework

Los Angeles Unified School District lacked a comprehensive framework for tracking and measuring energy consumption and engaging staff, students, and the community. To tackle these challenges, the District developed a suite of programs focused on health and wellness, education, recognizing partnerships, optimizing performance, improving efficiency, and sharing best practices.

New Showcase Projects

The Pearl

The Tower Companies placed an emphasis on sustainability and resident health and wellness in the Pearl's design; it features a variety of energy- and water-saving components such as efficient lighting and appliances, as well as a solar PV array integrated into a 1,250-square-foot vegetated green roof. It is the first Fitwel-certified multifamily building in the world.

Philadelphia Housing Authority Headquarters Building

In early 2019 the Philadelphia Housing Authority moved into a new high-performance headquarters building designed to reduce energy use by 30% through improved lighting and design features and achieve LEED-NC certification.

Westshore Apartments

REACH Community Development Corporation partnered with a new energy financing collective, MPower, to identify buildings that could achieve significant reductions in energy consumption. REACH invested $280,000 in its Westshore Apartments property, achieving 14% annual energy savings through improved ventilation, lighting, and insulation.

New Solutions-at-a-Glance

Targeting Energy Efficiency with Low-Energy Design and Renewables at Sparta Clinic

Gundersen Health's Sparta Clinic consumes 50% less energy than the average outpatient medical clinic due to its low-energy design that targets energy efficiency and the integration of renewables. By combining solar and geothermal with a variety of energy efficiency building features, Gundersen was able to surpass its energy savings goal by 9% resulting in cost savings over $68,000.

Energy Benchmarking Analysis Report for Local Governments

Reports issued by cities, counties, and states that compile benchmarking data promote transparency and allow for evaluation of the progress of benchmarking programs. This Energy Benchmarking Analysis Report from Seattle, Washington provides a replicable example of a comprehensive report that includes details on program accomplishments, data analysis methodologies, building characteristics, and energy consumption trends.

To Buy or Not to Buy: Evaluating the Costs of LED Street Lighting Ownership

The Street Lighting Acquisition Evaluation Tool focuses on the advantages (and/or disadvantages) of changing street light ownership structure by estimating the cost over time for purchasing a utility-owned street lighting system and converting it to LED energy-efficient lighting, giving the municipality an opportunity to determine if an LED conversion is feasible.

Back to top

Mark Your Calendar: Upcoming Webinars, Industry Events

Better Buildings, Better Plants Summit

July 10-11, 2019
*Pre-conference activities on July 9

This annual event for Better Buildings, Better Plants partners and other key stakeholders provides the opportunity for professionals to explore emerging technologies and share innovative strategies in energy and water efficiency. Attendees can expect two days of interactive sessions with industry experts and market leaders as well as many opportunities to network with peers.

Register here

Better Buildings Webinars

June 4, 2019: 3 - 4 P.M. ET
Solutions for Small Data Centers: Air Management Packages

This webinar will focus on how small data centers use air management best practices to reduce energy costs.

Register here

Technology Webinars

April 25, 2019: 1 - 2:30 P.M. ET
Leveraging Smart Home Technologies to Advance Home Performance Projects

Smart thermostats and other smart technologies are growing in popularity among homeowners. How can residential energy efficiency programs leverage these transactions to promote broader energy efficiency improvements? Tune in to meet experts attempting to bridge the gap.

Register here

April 29, 2019: 2 - 3 P.M. ET
The Returns to Green Building Interventions – What Does the Research Say?

Do high-performing, energy-efficient buildings perform better financially than their more energy-consuming counterparts? What value do environmental interventions such as green building certifications and tenant engagement strategies provide to owners and investors? DOE and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab partnered with the Real Estate Research Institute to fund new research that investigates these questions. Academics from three universities will share recent findings on the connection between buildings, energy/environment, and financial performance, with useful takeaways for building operators, investors, and energy policymakers.

Register here

May 9, 2019: 1 - 2:30 P.M. ET
Residential Energy Efficiency in a World of Funding Constraints

In the face of a budget cut, how do residential energy efficiency programs prioritize efforts and maximize resources to continue to meet their goals? Panelists will describe how they handle budget cuts and budget constraints.

Register here

May 16, 2019: 1 - 2:30 P.M. ET
Transforming Research Labs into Sustainable Spaces

This webinar will discuss how Green Labs programs are formed and will suggest several opportunities for energy and water efficiency and waste reduction in labs. Attendees will also learn about Green Lab Certification and how Green Labs fit into the context of the Better Buildings Smart Labs Accelerator program. The first in a 2-part series.

Register here

May 16, 2019: 2 - 3 P.M. ET
Innovative Wall Technologies for Commercial Buildings

Join this Envelope Technology Research Team webinar to hear the latest about Oak Ridge National Lab’s research on passive walls, composite panels, and the investigation of a building enclosure performance metric. A guest speaker will share their experience in selecting and installing high-performing wall technologies.

Register here

May 23, 2019: 1 - 2:30 P.M. ET
Finding the Balance Between Solar and Energy Efficiency

How do you work with homeowners that are aware of solar but not energy efficiency? Do programs require energy efficiency improvements before solar projects? Program administrators and contractors will share how they balance energy efficiency and solar in the field.

Register here

June 6, 2019: 2 - 3 P.M. ET
Smart Energy Analytics Campaign – Spring 2019 Award Winners

Each year, the Better Buildings Smart Energy Analytics Campaign recognizes exemplary efforts in the implementation of energy management and information systems, or EMIS. Learn how the awardees have successfully implemented building analytics through their EMIS in a wide variety of building types, saving energy and moving from reactive to proactive maintenance.

Register here

June 13, 2019: 1 - 2:30 P.M. ET
Modular Housing, Tiny Homes, and What the Future of Homeownership Means for Energy Efficiency

What do the tiny and modular home movements mean for energy efficiency? How are programs adapting to address their popularity? What can programs do to capitalize on this trend? Tune in for a discussion addressing these issues.

Register here

June 27, 2019: 1 - 2:30 P.M. ET
Making the Most of Home Performance Project Data

Energy efficiency projects generate a lot of data, including energy usage and measures installed. But how do you and your stakeholders harness this data to make informed decisions about your programs? This call will feature professionals using data to guide program development and methods for sharing and using data efficiently.

Register here

Industry Events and Conferences

April 29 – May 1, 2019
PRSM National Conference 2019

PRSM’s annual conference for retail facilities maintenance professionals is one of the largest multi-site retail-focused events in the country. It combines education sessions, networking, and an expo of over 300 exhibitors.

Register here

May 7-9, 2019
CleanMed 2019

CleanMed is a national conference for leaders in healthcare sustainability. Stakeholders across the healthcare supply chain convene to collaborate on best practices, sustainability standards, and innovations to promote health and resilience. Thursday morning will feature a session with Better Buildings healthcare partners on using microgrid and battery storage, as well as a Better Buildings meet-up. 

Register here

May 13-15, 2019
ELEMCON – Environmental Leader & Energy Manager Conference

Energy, sustainability, and environmental professionals come together to identify new areas of opportunity to work more collaboratively in addressing their organizations’ goals. Attendees will explore current energy programs and initiatives in manufacturing, refining, transportation, warehousing, healthcare, hospitality, retail, education, and other industries.

Register here

June 13-14, 2019

This conference is focused on technology, innovation, and automation for the commercial and corporate real estate and facilities industries. Attendees will engage in comprehensive discussions of the next generation of smart, connected, high-performance, green, sustainable, and intelligent buildings.

Register here

June 18-20, 2019
Industrial Energy Technology Conference

This Better Plants-sponsored conference helps inform the industrial energy community regarding industrial innovations, energy use and waste reduction programs, and the latest in various state and federal programs affecting industry. Better Plants program staff will present on a paper titled “Multiple Benefits of Industrial Energy Efficiency – Lessons Learned and New Initiatives.”

Register here

June 22-25, 2019
BOMA International Conference & Expo

This conference for commercial real estate owners and managers offers more than 40 sessions featuring insights from building industry experts on building operations and management, creating asset value, high-performance buildings, technology and innovation, and more.

Register here

June 26-28, 2019
NAA Apartmentalize

The National Apartment Association’s annual education conference and trade show for multifamily owners, managers, developers, and staff features over 10,000 attendees, including 550 suppliers. Participants will have access to more than 85 breakout sessions covering topics related to operations, maintenance, leasing, and more.

Register here

Back to top

Partners in the News

GSA’s Sustainable Facilities Tool Shares Federal Real Estate Best Practices

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), a Better Buildings partner, created the Sustainable Facilities Tool (SFTool) to improve and share knowledge of sustainable building and procurement topics. Better Buildings partners in the public and private sectors can take advantage of the information and best practices GSA has compiled to advance their own energy and sustainability goals.

Residents at The Pearl Reap the Benefits of Energy Efficiency

The Pearl, which received LEED Gold Certification and is the first-ever Fitwel-certified multifamily residential building, is an example of prioritizing energy efficiency and seeing the positive impacts in attracting tenants and improved occupant comfort. The building features a variety of energy- and water-saving components such as a solar PV array uniquely integrated into a 1,250-square-foot vegetated green roof, as well as efficient lighting and appliances.

DOE’s Interior Lighting Campaign: Recognizing Leadership in Lighting Projects

The Interior Lighting Campaign is accepting applications for 2019 recognition for projects completed between January 2013 and April 2019! Facility owners and managers that have achieved significant energy savings in their troffer, linear suspended, high-bay, and/or low-bay lighting and controls projects are encouraged to apply by April 16, 2019.

Recent news articles featuring Better Buildings partners are listed below. Partners have been recognized by Facility Executive, Smart Energy Decisionsthe New England Real Estate Journal, and more.

For a full listing, please visit the Better Buildings Partners in the News page.

Back to top

New Resources

Efficiency-as-a-Service Toolkit

Efficiency-as-a-service is a pay-for-performance, off-balance sheet financing solution that allows customers to implement energy and water efficiency projects with no upfront capital expenditure. This toolkit provides an overview for building owners, operators, and occupants that may want to take advantage of efficiency-as-a-service to improve resiliency in their facilities.

National Labs Innovation Portal

Better Plants has created an online one-stop-shop to learn about the Department of Energy’s 17 National Labs, their unique and innovative user facilities, and the various options to work with them. The portal includes profiles of the labs and user facilities with industrial relevance, as well as contact information at both the lab- and facility-level.

Benchmarking and Transparency: Resources for State and Local Leaders

DOE and the Institute for Market Transformation created this guide to provide state and local leaders with streamlined access to key existing resources for developing and implementing high-impact building energy benchmarking and transparency programs in their jurisdictions.

K-12 Lighting Toolkit

K-12 schools can save up to 50% on energy use if they optimize their lighting equipment and operations. This toolkit covers a wide range of technical implementation details, case studies, specifications, and more on lighting technologies in K-12 schools.

Resources for Rural K-12 School Energy Managers and Educators

This resource helps states, local school administrators, school boards, and facilities personnel supporting rural school districts make prudent decisions around the use of funds for energy efficiency improvements as part of their master facilities management plan.

Working with Your Utility on Energy Efficiency

This resource highlights examples of utility services and incentives that Better Buildings partners have leveraged to improve the energy efficiency of their buildings. Using this guide, organizations can work with their utility provider to better understand if these or other energy efficiency programs are available to them.

Better Buildings Accelerators: What's New

New HPXML Developer Tools and Implementation Guide

The Home Upgrade Program Accelerator, in cooperation with the Home Performance Coalition and the Home Performance Extensible Markup Language (HPXML) Working Group, introduced new online tools for software developers and an HPXML implementation guide to simplify data aggregation and analysis to reduce contractor costs in home performance programs.

Better Buildings Alliance: What's New

Zero-Client Computing in Office Settings: Energy Savings and Usability

Researchers at the National Renewable Energy Lab conducted a study comparing energy and usability of remote virtual machines (VMs) accessed through zero-client devices with traditional laptop computers, to determine if zero-client computing could be a solution to reducing building energy use.

Archived Webinars

Rethinking Traditional Finance: How Efficiency-as-a-Service Can Drive Upgrades without Upfront Capital

This webinar highlighted the new efficiency-as-a-service toolkit and Better Buildings Financial Allies and building owners shared their insights from the field.

Better Buildings, Better Bodies: Strategies for Health & Wellness

Meet Better Buildings partners who are implementing design strategies in their buildings and sustainability plans focusing on the wellness, health, and productivity of the people inside them.

Better Buildings Residential Network

Zero Energy Ready Home Certifications on the Rise

The Zero Energy Ready (ZER) Home program represents the Federal government’s most rigorous guidelines for high performance, strengthening communities and families by delivering utility bill savings, healthier indoor environments, enhanced comfort, and greater durability. The number of certified ZER homes doubled from 2016 to 2018, reaching a record number of certified homes in January 2019. Learn more here.

Archived Peer Exchange Calls/Lessons Learned

Review past peer exchange calls from the Better Buildings Residential Network here. Recent topics include:

Key takeaways from these presentations are translated into 1-page Lessons Learned Fact Sheets. View the latest Fact Sheets and the full archive here.

Back to top

Is There Something We Missed?

Tell us! We want to promote partner successes in our newsletters, emails, social media, and of course the Beat Blog. You can reach us at:

Back to top