RMI Identifies Four Core Efficiency Measures

Pathways to Progress

USGBC. Image credit: maxmann

Today, according to Campbell, people rarely look beyond three years in terms of investment and the energy profile of their building. “Are people making decisions based upon the 50-year life cycle of the asset? Probably not.” He believes all resources need to be equally valued—the idea being that transitioning to renewable sources will result in a drop in demand because efficiency will be foremost. “There needs to be an equalization and revaluation of all resources so that market forces can steer us most economically toward the future clean-energy system,” explains Campbell.

Campbell sees deep energy retrofits typically integrated into major renovation projects or as he puts it: “as part of a capital refresh or repositioning of a building.” He feels the supply side of the market has yet to come up with a good solution for a stand-alone energy retrofit that is meaningful and persists over time. “We believe a big part of that is due to the retrofit process, which has been designed to deliver single building retrofits that are custom by nature.”

RMI has identified 452 possible energy-conserving measures that can be deployed in a large commercial building. What is important is to determine how a building’s characteristics match up with those possibilities. If energy retrofits are to be scalable in any significant way, Campbell and his team believe they need to be industrialized, what they call “mass customization.” He explains it as an approach that takes “specific high-value energy-conserving measures that are relevant to many buildings and [pre-engineered]…for a portfolio of buildings.” In other words, it identifies which measures are applicable for the majority, if not all, of the buildings at hand. Campbell notes that this mass customization model has been used in many industries with huge success because it is cost efficient.

They have identified four core measures: LED lighting, HVAC optimization, variable speed motor retrofits, and a real-time measurement platform that ensures consistency and sustainability of measures deployed over time. This bundle of measures—intended for buildings of over 250,000 square feet—results in an average 23 percent energy savings (without replacing major pieces of capital equipment). The Chicago retrofit is the model for the application of this bundle.

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