Office buildings make up the largest sector of building type within the commercial sector, comprising 17% of all commercial buildings in the U.S, as well as 17% of the energy. There are many efficiency opportunities in both existing office buildings, and new construction. In existing buildings these opportunities include equipment upgrades, improved building and energy management systems, commissioning, and improved operations and maintenance (O&M). For new construction, using advanced design and technologies is an important means for saving energy.
Building benchmarking (e.g. Portfolio Manager) and building labeling (e.g. ENERGY STAR) are two areas that are getting more attention, particularly in the office building sector.
Public buildings (buildings owned by the federal or local government) represent a significant portion of buildings in the U.S., and therefore a large potential for energy efficiency savings. Federal buildings are already required to purchase energy-efficient products, a practice that is managed through the FEMP (Federal Energy Management Program). ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability) provides resources for cities and municipalities interested in implementing energy-efficient practices.
A sizeable amount of work has been done to identify energy efficiency opportunities in schools (specifically K-12). Energy savings can be realized through improved windows and other building shell measures, the upgrade of HVAC and lighting systems, and better office and kitchen equipment.
In many cases, funding is a major barrier to making efficiency upgrades. Often schools have a limited budget for making repairs, and have little or no budget for making improvements. Additionally, funding may compete with funding for school supplies and educational materials.