Research & Reports

Looking for extensive information on how commercial buildings use and save energy? Check out the highlighted reports below from various nationally-acclaimed research institutions to learn more about your building or projects. You will find information on market research and trends on the benefits of commercial building performance, the importance of key policies and more.


Smart, Renewable & Clean Energy in Commercial Buildings

Smart Buildings: A Deeper Dive into Market Segments

Author: American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), December 2017

Smart buildings use interconnected technologies to provide building owners and occupants with both energy savings and nonenergy benefits. These technologies can display real-time data, diagnose faulty equipment operation, and reduce energy waste. Commercial buildings, including office, retail, hotel, and hospital buildings, can all benefit from installing smart technologies. However each of these sectors has its own unique business goals to achieve, stakeholders to satisfy, and barriers to overcome, so the opportunities are different for each sector. The most favorable technologies will also change over time, as smart technologies continue to grow into interconnected systems that learn and adapt to human behavior.


Best Practices for Achieving Zero Over Time for Building Portfolios Guide

Author: Rocky Mountain Institute

Net-zero energy (NZE) buildings are gaining interest from building owners, tenants, and landlords alike.i NZE buildings provide increased rent rates, faster lease up, increased net operating income, less risk during market downturns, higher resale value, and a differentiated offering for landlords. NZE can provide tenants with healthier, more productive, and more enticing workspace environments, controllable energy costs, and alignment with corporate sustainability goals.


High Performance Commercial Buildings, A Technology Roadmap

Author: NREL – National laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy

This technology roadmap describes the vision and strategies for addressing these challenges developed by representatives of the buildings industry. Collaborative research, development, and deployment of new technologies, coupled with an integrated “whole-buildings” approach, can shape future generations of commercial environments that are highly resource-efficient and that enhance human creativity, productivity, and quality of life in ways we can only begin to envision.


Modernizing Our Grid and Energy Systems

Author: NREL – National laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy

This 2016 ESIF annual report highlights our work in finding new ways to control and protect electric grids, showing how they can accommodate more renewables, demonstrating that utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) installations can provide grid services, challenging inventors to create a smaller inverter, determining the best way to dispatch battery energy storage systems (BESS), using big data to improve solar forecasting, and developing new test devices for hydrogen refueling. At the ESIF, we have also completed a series of groundbreaking projects under the Integrated Network Testbed for Energy Grid Research and Technology Experimentation (INTEGRATE) initiative, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), that have demonstrated new approaches to operating and managing electric distribution grids with very high levels of distributed energy resources in an interoperable and scalable manner.


Policy and Legislation

ACEEE’s State and Local Policy Database for North Carolina’s Energy Efficiency Industry

Author: ACEEE

North Carolina offers financial incentives for energy efficiency, although several were discontinued recently. The state government leads by example by requiring efficient buildings and fleets, benchmarking energy use in public buildings, and encouraging the use of energy savings performance contracts. Researched focused on energy efficiency takes place at several institutions in the state.


Building Energy Efficiency and the Importance of National and Local Coordination

Author: Building Efficiency Initiative

The City-Scale Building Efficiency Action roundtable at the eighth Clean Energy Ministerial will focus on how national governments can help engage cities and businesses to work together to increase the efficiency of buildings. It brings together key stakeholders to discuss opportunities to scale up key initiatives that can accelerate city-scale building energy efficiency through city and private sector engagement, including the Sustainable Energy for All Building Efficiency Accelerator and the Energy Efficiency in Buildings Amplify initiative.


Energy Efficiency and Consumption in Commercial Buildings

Energy Use in Commercial Buildings

Author: U.S. Energy Information Administration

About 5.6 million commercial1 buildings had a total of about 87.1 billion square feet of floorspace in the United States in 2012.2 Five types of commercial buildings—retail (includes mercantile and service buildings), office, education, healthcare, and lodging—represented 53% of all commercial buildings and had 62% of the total commercial building floorspace. These types of buildings also used the most energy of all commercial buildings.


The 2018 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard

Author: ACEEE

The 2018 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, now in its 12th edition, ranks states on their policy and program efforts, not only assessing performance but also documenting best practices and recognizing leadership. The report captures the latest policy developments and state efforts to save energy and highlights opportunities and policy tools available to governors, state legislators, and regulators.


Energy Data Access: Blueprint for Action

Author: Better Buildings – U.S. Department of Energy 

Key accomplishments and results of partners are outlined in this fact sheet, profiling the historic expansion of data accessibility and increases in building energy benchmarking.


2012 Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey: Energy Usage Summary

Author: U.S. Energy Information Administration

Despite a 14% increase in total buildings and a 22% increase in total floorspace since 2003, energy use in the estimated 5.6 million U.S. commercial buildings was up just 7% during the same period, according to new analysis from the 2012 Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS).


NCBPA’s 2018 North Carolina Energy Efficiency Potential Report

Author: NCBPA

Publish Date: September 25, 2018

The North Carolina Energy Efficiency Potential Report provides comprehensive quantitative data to inform policymakers, utilities, industry professionals, consumers and others of the widespread benefits available through an underutilized energy efficiency market in the state. Written by NCBPA, the report is a compilation of research reports, case studies and new analysis detailing how North Carolina’s energy sector, environment, economy, workforce and consumers would benefit from increased utilization of the state’s already strong, but vastly underutilized, energy efficiency market. The report recommends state and local policy development and related initiatives that collect utility and market data needed to prioritize the policy recommendations.  Economic impact estimates resulting from these policy actions follow, focusing on job creation, local economic development and environmental benefits. To conclude, the report recommends new legislation that sets in motion the studies, initiatives and strategies needed to advance the use of energy efficiency in North Carolina.


Incentivizing Energy Efficiency in Public Buildings Through Information
North Carolina Community Colleges as a Case Study

Author: Charles Jackson, Duke University

Publish Date: May 2010

The energy efficiency gap, which describes the difference between current  and socially optimal levels of energy efficiency, has persisted for decades, even as  our nation’s energy intensity has improved.  Economics literature tends to focus on  informational, behavioral, and large‐scale market failures when positing the causes  of the gap.  However, state and local policy failures may greatly contribute to the gap  as well.  Information disclosure policies are particularly well suited to narrow the  energy efficiency gap, because they cost‐effectively address behavioral and  informational failures and can be easily implemented on the local level.  The Federal  Government has utilized such policies to vastly improve the energy efficiency of its  buildings’ stock, but state and local governments have been slow to follow suit.  This  Master’s project investigates the potential of utilizing information disclosure policies to narrow the energy efficiency gap in public buildings at the local level by analyzing the North Carolina Community College System as a case study.


The Business Case for High-Performing Buildings

Now more than ever, commercial real estate brokers have many reasons to pay attention to green and high performance building practices. From new technology and regulations, to corporate responsibility and sustainability programs driving demand for more efficient spaces and buildings that achieve designations such as LEED or ENERGY STAR, green is more than just a trend in commercial real estate; it’s here to stay.

The Institute for Market Transformation (IMT) offers a course that explains how once-niche green concepts are evolving into high-performance standards across office, retail, and industrial segments, and what commercial practitioners can do to take advantage of long- and short-term sustainability trends and best practices. Drawing from real-world examples, The Business Case for High-Performance Buildings shows how leading property owners incorporate energy efficiency and broader sustainability elements into their operational and investment decisions.

Watch the below video for an abbreviated version of this course.  Click here for more information.