Sustainability Problem: Energy Efficiency
It is often difficult to identify and implement energy efficiency practice for small commercial buildings due to the lack of technical expertise and financial capitals. Although it is a fairly segmented market, small commercial building accounts for about 44 percent of commercial building energy consumption. It represents a large opportunity in improving energy efficiency and cost savings.
Sustainable Technology: Retro-Commissioning “Sensor Suitcase”
The “Sensor Suitcase” is a portable case that contains easy-to-use sensors and other equipment that make it possible for anyone to identify energy-saving opportunities in small commercial buildings. It is developed by two U.S. Department of Energy labs, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. It provides the hard-to-reach small commercial buildings sector with a streamlined technology solution with very little cost and time:
- “It’s kind of like the ‘for dummies’ version of how to identify improvements in your building. Instead of hiring a professional engineer to conduct a full energy evaluation, you could get just about anyone to do it.” said Jessica Granderson, deputy director of Berkeley Lab’s Building Technology and Urban Systems Division.
- It can do much of the same work as a traditional retro-commissioning assessment in four to six weeks, compared to six months or longer, and at one-third the cost.
- It is expected to provide 10 percent saving on the building’s energy bills. If used by every small commercial building nationwide, U.S. energy costs would be reduced by $5.1 billion every year.
- It has successfully completed the journey from lab to market and is licensed by GreenPath Energy Solutions, a Florida-based energy-efficiency solutions company.
Organizational Stakeholders that Will Use the Technology
- Owners and facility managers of small commercial buildings
- ESCO energy services companies
- Utilities that lend the technology to commercial building customers or otherwise encourage its use
First 3 Steps in Deploying the Technology
- Market the technology to federal, state and local governments through GSA Schedule contract, as many small businesses lease or occupy local government-owned buildings.
- Select couple cities with large concentration of small commercial buildings to conduct pilot testings.
- Partner with local utilities to broaden customer outreach.