Better Buildings - U.S. Department of Energy





The Better Buildings Bulletin keeps you up to date on partner successes, program updates, opportunities to participate, and more. View the Bulletin online.

In This Issue

DOE Announces $11 Billion in Energy Savings from Better Buildings Partners in 2020 Progress Report

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced nearly $11 billion in energy-cost savings by more than 950 public and private sector organizations in DOE’s Better Buildings Initiative. To date, partners have saved nearly 1.8 quadrillion British thermal units of energy, which is equivalent to the electricity consumption of 27 million homes in America over one year. The 2020 Better Buildings Progress Report details partners’ progress in advancing energy productivity and highlights the 20 organizations that achieved their energy efficiency goals in the past year. DOE also recognized partners that met previous challenge goals and have set new goals to achieve even greater energy efficiency.

DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy also announced four new Better Buildings efforts: The Better Buildings Workforce Accelerator, the Better Buildings Sustainable Corrections Infrastructure Accelerator, the Integrated Lighting Campaign, and the Building Envelope Campaign. Learn more.

2020 Summit Recap

Over 2,000 participants attended the 2020 Better Buildings, Better Plants Summit in June. This Virtual Leadership Symposium explored emerging technologies, resilience, workforce development, and much more. You can learn more about the 2020 Summit by reading the recaps on the Beat Blog.

The recordings and slide decks for each session are now available on the Better Buildings Solution Center.

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Welcome New Partners!

Better Buildings Accelerators

Workforce Accelerator

  • Auburn University Rural Studio
  • Building Performance Institute
  • Confluence Communications
  • City University of New York
  • D.C. Sustainable Energy Utility
  • Earth Advantage
  • Energy & Environmental Building Alliance
  • Lane Community College
  • Milwaukee, WI
  • National Association of State Energy Officials
  • North America's Building Trades Unions
  • Roxbury Community College
  • Urban Green Council
  • U.S. Green Building Council

Packaged CHP Accelerator

  • AB Energy - New Jersey

Better Buildings Challenge

  • Empire State Realty Trust

Better Plants Challenge

  • Lineage Logistics

Better Plants Program

  • Gibraltar Industries

Better Buildings Residential Network

  • Energy, Livability, and You
  • Energy Potential
  • Flair
  • Holy Cross Energy
  • National Energy Improvement Fund
  • LS Insights
  • Opportunity Council

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 Models

Celanese Corporation: Energy Management Assessment Matrix

Celanese lacked a standardized process for analyzing the energy programs of different sites. The company developed an energy assessment matrix that uses 41 key elements of an energy management system so that different sites can identify specific energy shortcomings and develop actions for improvement.

City of Grand Rapids Water Resource Recovery Facility: Demonstrating Leadership in Sustainability through Innovation and Collaboration

The Environmental Services Department faced inadequate city budget justifications and employee engagement for major energy efficiency projects. Management developed internal support by participating in the Utility of the Future Today program to engage a greater cross-section of employees from the department and the city organization. This generated greater participation and financial support for sophisticated energy-saving projects, as well as recognition from water utility organizations.

Jonathan Rose Companies: Implementing Portfolio-Wide Resilience Assessments for Affordable Housing

Using tools and resources from peers and partners, Jonathan Rose Companies is conducting detailed property resilience assessments and incorporating recommended measures into its retrofit and capital improvements strategy. Properties also receive enhanced training and resources to aid emergency planning.

Manhattan Housing Authority: Navigating a Complex Regulatory Environment

The Manhattan Housing Authority of Manhattan, Kansas (MHA) needed to conduct deep retrofits to one of its 88-unit properties, but found the expenses were not allowable under federal rules. MHA took an innovative approach to raising additional funds, applying for a series of waivers and grants not ordinarily used for such projects. They successfully secured more than $8 million for the rehabilitation, which conserved energy, improved indoor air quality, and enhanced resident comfort.

National Church Residences: Process Standardization for Housing Portfolio LED Retrofits

National Church Residences wanted to complete LED lighting retrofit projects across their portfolio but needed a way to determine site eligibility. They created a standardized template and a cost-effectiveness test based on a ratio of project cost as a percentage of the property’s capital reserve funds. The retrofits have already saved over $961,000 and are projected to save an additional $278,000, with an average payback of four years or less per property.

Principal Real Estate Investors: Climate Risk Assessments

Principal engaged in a pilot to assess climate-related risks for assets in one of its funds to determine material risks and applicability across the fund and individual assets. Data from the pilot enabled Principal to provide property teams with risk information, better inform organizational policies and practices around resilience, and share resilience performance with investors.

Schneider Electric: Daily Energy Model

Schneider Electric developed an energy-usage model to visualize the facility’s energy performance. The tool allows on-site operators and management to detect and correct problems before they become excessive.

WashREIT: Establishing an Active Peak Load Management Program

WashREIT was facing significant capacity charge costs and decided to optimize its existing energy intelligence software, allowing properties to anticipate and avoid peak loads at critical times while minimizing impact on operations. The expanded software changes are anticipated to save an estimated $30,000 in capacity charge costs in 2020.

New Showcase Projects

Celanese Corporation: Narrows Site Energy Reduction Project

The Celanese team needed a new approach to successfully change the behaviors at their Narrows, Virginia, plant to reduce energy usage. They implemented a process called "The Four Disciplines of Execution" to ensure that they could reach their goal of reducing energy spending by $150,000 per month. The team ended up exceeding their goal and reduced energy spending by $945,000 in total, averaging $157,000 per month.

Eastman Chemical: Steam Reduction in Solvent Production

When evaluating the solvent process at their Longview, Texas, facility, the Eastman team realized that a single-unit distillation column accounted for 45% of the energy usage in the production of a solvent. Changes to the use of steam in the process resulted in a 42% energy use reduction.

LBNL: Retro-Commissioning at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center

The National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) outgrew its former data center space and underwent a retro-commissioning process to meet the data center's growing needs; the upgrades resulted in over $104,000 in cost savings.

Maryland: Historic Western Railway Train Station

The State of Maryland renovated the Western Railway Train Station – originally built in 1913 – to address occupant comfort issues; the comprehensive building upgrade resulted in a 21% annual energy savings and an annual cost savings of over $12,000.

NREL: Data Center Optimization at Research Support Facility

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) Research Support Facility (RSF) uses 50% less energy than if it were built to current commercial building code standards and is certified LEED Platinum. The RSF also houses one of NREL’s greenest data centers, having achieved an 84% reduction in energy use in 2019 over its original legacy 2014 baseline.

San Francisco Unified School District: Charles Drew Elementary School

The San Francisco Unified School District upgraded the lighting, boilers, and building envelope of Charles Drew Elementary School, which is expected to result in 63% energy savings and 34% cost savings annually, totaling almost $15,000 per year.

Trinity Housing Corporation: Island Grove Village Apartments

Trinity Housing implemented a long-range plan to reduce overall energy and water consumption at this 108-unit affordable housing complex through a variety of funding sources, resulting in 20% energy savings and 18% water savings.

New Solutions-at-a-Glance

Bristol-Myers Squibb: Application of Principles of Green Chemistry Leads to Significant Reductions in Material Waste

To reduce process waste and improve efficiency, Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) leveraged the American Chemical Society’s Principles of Green Chemistry to enhance their sustainability efforts. As a result, BMS has eliminated 14 metric tons of waste in clinical trials and achieved $57 million in cost avoidance; changes to product packaging produced a 40% reduction in transportation emissions and just under $1 million in annual savings for shipping.

RILA: Energy Benchmarking Platform for Retailers

The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) developed the Retail Advisor for Energy Management benchmarking tool to provide retailers with customized guidance for optimizing their energy management program performance.

Sabey Data Centers: Workforce Development Partnership with Big Bend Community College

Sabey Data Centers partnered with Big Bend Community College to develop a Data Center Training Program that prepares students for the information technology and facility management jobs critical to successfully maintaining data centers.

Shorenstein Properties: Improved Waste Diversion with Training and Audits

Shorenstein expanded its sustainability goals to include waste diversion and reduction. Utilizing a comprehensive approach that combines policies, training and outreach, and waste audits, they have achieved a diversion rate over 50% and improving, even with portfolio growth.

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Mark Your Calendar: Upcoming Webinars

Better Buildings Summer Webinar Series

View the full Better Buildings Webinar Series schedule here.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020: 1 - 2:30 p.m. ET
Combining Energy + Health Upgrades in Multifamily Housing

In this webinar, panelists will present case studies of innovative partnerships between affordable housing providers, public health, and building science stakeholders to advance energy + health initiatives and will share experiences pursuing the FitWel® certification for healthy buildings.

Register here

Wednesday, July 22, 2020: 1 - 2 p.m. ET
Case in Point: Oregon’s Recent Efforts to Reduce Plug Load Energy Consumption

Join DOE's Plug and Process Load Technology Research Team and NREL for a technical presentation about a statewide plug load strategy developed by the Oregon Department of Administrative Services and the Oregon Department of Energy.

Register here

Tuesday, July 28, 2020: 3 - 4 p.m. ET
Everyone Has a Data Center: How to Be an Energy Champion for Yours

Learn how to make the business case for energy efficiency in data centers. This webinar will help participants identify key stakeholder interests, underlying drivers, and institutional and technical barriers that need to be considered and give attendees an overview of the technical concepts and relevant tools and resources involved.

Register here

Tuesday, August 4, 2020: 1 - 2 p.m. ET
Succeed with Submetering: How to Make the Business Case

Organizations of all shapes and sizes can benefit from better understanding their granular energy usage. Partners from across sectors will discuss how to persuade decision-makers and make the business case for the value of submetering; they will also share how to tie submetering to benchmarking and data management for greater success.

Register here

Technology Webinars

Thursday, July 23, 2020: 1 – 2:30 p.m. ET
Energy Efficiency Funding for Residential Programs: Challenges and Opportunities

Cities and states are facing unprecedented budget shortfalls due to economic disruptions caused by the pandemic. Join this Better Buildings Residential Network peer exchange call for an update on how residential energy efficiency programs are preparing for an uncertain future.

Register here

Wednesday, August 26, 2020: 2 - 3 p.m. ET
Building Performance Results from New York’s Real-Time Energy Management Program

Owners in New York State have implemented energy management and information systems (EMIS) at over 600 buildings as a part of NYSERDA’s Real-Time Energy Management incentive program. Join DOE’s EMIS Technology Research Team to hear how these owners used EMIS to elevate building performance and drive savings.

Register here

Wednesday, September 16, 2020: 2 - 3 p.m. ET
De-Mystifying Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning for Improving Building Performance

With claims that building diagnostic software uses artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning (ML) becoming commonplace, what does this really mean to building operations? In this webinar, the EMIS Technology Research Team will provide an overview of AI and ML techniques and discuss the most promising applications in commercial buildings.

Register here

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Partners in the News

Green Schools Recap: Efficiency Resources for Rural K-12 Schools

Integrating energy efficiency into rural K-12 schools presents a significant opportunity for those districts to achieve energy and cost savings. Such schools represent around one-third of all public schools in the U.S. At the 2020 Green Schools Conference and Expo, Better Buildings Challenge partner Poudre School District and a representative from Tennessee’s Energy Efficiency Schools Initiative shared resources and success stories about energy efficiency in rural K-12 schools.

Recent news articles featuring Better Buildings partners are listed below.

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

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New Resources

E-Learning Center

Discover online training and education opportunities from DOE and Better Buildings Affiliates who are working to promote energy efficiency in U.S. buildings and manufacturing plants. The E-Learning Center collects webinars, courses, and other e-learning resources covering a range of areas relevant to Better Buildings, Better Plants partners.

Finance + Resilience Roadmap for Commercial Buildings

Research shows that resilience and financial performance are closely linked. This toolkit includes resources and case studies to help commercial building owners develop a plan for measuring, managing, and mitigating resilience risk to help preserve the value of their properties, protect occupants, and attract investment.

Better Buildings Accelerators: What's New

Smart Labs Accelerator Toolkit

This toolkit features a step-by-step guide to help your organization plan, assess, optimize, and manage a Smart Labs program to reduce energy intensity, mitigate safety and health risks, and improve ventilation in laboratory buildings. It also includes tasks, resources, and other deliverables to direct you through a systems-based management approach.

Sustainable Corrections Infrastructure Partnership (SCIP) Accelerator

The Better Buildings SCIP Accelerator is partnering with state and federal agencies to advance infrastructure improvements in corrections facilities, aiming for a total portfolio savings of 20% through energy and water conservation measures, integration of renewable energy technologies, and energy storage for resilience.

Workforce Accelerator

The Better Buildings Workforce Accelerator is working with partners to increase the energy efficiency knowledge in the U.S. buildings workforce, from architects and builders to facility managers and real estate professionals. Partners will focus on raising awareness, streamlining pathways to entry, and improving existing training and educational curricula.

Better Buildings Alliance: What's New

Building Envelope Campaign

A building's envelope (windows, walls, roof) accounts for approximately 30% of the primary energy consumed in commercial buildings; participants in the Building Envelope Campaign work to improve the performance of building envelopes in both new and existing buildings by setting goals for performance, determining available energy savings, and leveraging technical support from DOE.

Integrated Lighting Campaign

Less than 1% of lighting systems in the U.S. can communicate with other building systems to enable additional energy-saving opportunities. Growing out of the Interior Lighting Campaign, the new Integrated Lighting Campaign is expanding its focus from interior lighting improvements to the integration of new uses for energy-efficient lighting with linking controls between HVAC units, plug loads, and occupancy sensors.

IoT-Upgradable Lighting Challenge

This Technology Challenge encourages lighting manufacturers to produce efficient LED luminaires and retrofit kits with mechanisms to allow for upgrading to IoT (Internet of Things) sensors and devices after installation. Building owners, end-users, specifiers, designers, engineers, and manufacturers can contact to learn more about how to participate.

Healthcare Sector Priority Resources

This page highlights solutions for healthcare organizations related to this year’s healthcare sector priorities as set by the sector Steering Committee, including: energy efficiency and zero-energy ready design for resilience planning; engaging and creating a sustainable culture within a changing model of care; and strategies for communication and obtaining high-level buy-in.

Foundations of Efficiency Programs for Commercial Real Estate

Commercial real estate organizations can use this page to find resources that provide simple, foundational principles to help navigate establishing a robust and effective energy efficiency and sustainability program.

In case you missed it: Better Buildings Webinars on Demand

Explore more on-demand Better Buildings webinars here.

Sneak Peek of the Building Envelope Campaign (May 20, 2020)

The Building Envelope Campaign is designed to help building owners and managers create more energy-efficient buildings by targeting their windows, walls, and roofs. This webinar presented the campaign structure and schedule, resources that have been compiled for participants, and opportunities for involvement across the industry.

Get Smart (Labs): Results from the Better Buildings Smart Labs Accelerator (May 12, 2020)

For the past three years, 18 Better Buildings partners have been working through the Smart Labs Accelerator to reduce their energy intensity in their laboratory buildings through the development of a Smart Labs Program. This webinar highlighted best practices for developing a Smart Labs Program and featured results from Accelerator participants.

The Value of Distributed Energy Resources to Owners: A Current Market Landscape (May 6, 2020)

This webinar introduced the distributed energy resources (DER) technology options, described multiple value streams from these DERs, and presented a landscape of customer-sited DER solution providers.

Updates from the Lighting and Electrical Technology Research Team (May 5, 2020)

The Lighting and Electrical Technology Research Team introduced the Integrated Lighting Campaign, early results from field validations, and progress on the IoT-Upgradeable Lighting Challenge.

Managing HVAC Systems to Reduce Infectious Disease Transmission (May 4, 2020)

This webinar features expert insights on ways to manage buildings to minimize the risk of infectious disease transmission and what practices to avoid, as well as a review of guidance from ASHRAE and other built environment organizations.

Managing Buildings During a Shutdown and Bringing Them Back Online (May 1, 2020)

This webinar features helpful strategies for navigating building efficiency and operations when unoccupied, as well as ways to rebuild occupant trust, improve safety, and mitigate risks when reopening.

Automatic Receptacle Controls: Adjusting to New Code Requirements for Plug Load Controls (April 30, 2020)

The Plug and Process Load Technology Research Team provided team updates and hosted two technical presentations focused on automatic receptacle controls, which are methods for reducing plug load energy consumption.

Utility Rate Structures and Opportunities to Incentivize Load Flexibility (April 28, 2020)

The Renewables Integration Technology Research Team was joined by guest speakers from ACEEE and ConEd to discuss general findings on utility program design to encourage demand management and load flexibility.

Finance + Resilience Initiative Part 2: Taking Action to Improve Resilience and Disclose Performance (April 28, 2020)

This webinar focused on different mechanisms for financing resilience projects, various reporting frameworks for disclosing resilience performance, and pulling everything together into a resilience risk management plan.

Finance + Resilience Initiative Part 1: Building the Financial Business Case for Resilience (April 21, 2020)

This webinar highlighted how commercial building owners can build the financial business case for resilience within an organization, best practices for measuring financial risk at the asset and portfolio level, and strategies for managing insurance cost and business risk.

Better Plants Online Learning Series:

Water Efficiency (May 21, 2020)
This webinar discussed why water efficiency is important to U.S. manufacturers, what drives water efficiency efforts, and what common water-related issues manufacturers face today.

Compressed Air Systems (May 14, 2020)
This session discussed the pros and cons of different compressor configurations, controls with examples from the field, and common energy conservation measures.

Resources You Should Know: USDA Rural Development Programs and the Department of Commerce Manufacturing Extension Partnership (May 7, 2020)
Participants in this session learned about other federal resources for industry besides Better Plants, including the Agriculture Department’s Rural Development programs and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Centers.

Lighting, HVAC, and Building Envelope (April 29, 2020)
This webinar covered various lighting technologies and lighting system control strategies, as well as how to measure the energy performance of building envelope and HVAC systems.

Basics of Energy (April 23, 2020)
This webinar discussed the basics of industrial energy and a systematic approach to improve its efficiency.

Better Plants Town Hall (April 16, 2020)
Better Plants partners shared current challenges and heard from Al Hildreth of General Motors, who discussed his company’s activities in the fight against COVID-19.

Better Buildings Residential Network

Archived Peer Exchange Calls/Lessons Learned

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

Key takeaways from these presentations are outlined in one-page "lessons learned" fact sheets. View the latest fact sheets and the full archive here.

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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:

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