ZNE Small Commercial Retrofits

The Problem

The small commercial office market experiences many unique barriers to achieving substantial energy reductions, including:  1) a lack of awareness of and access to centralized, comprehensive, cost-evaluative information about how to achieve energy targets, and 2) affordable access to energy reduction services such as engineering and auditing services

Energy efficiency tools and services currently involve high costs on a per-square-foot or kWh-saved basis.  Small commercial offices in California consumed 3,500 GWh of electricity in 2012, and are projected to continue to grow.                 

Meeting the state’s energy goals requires cost-effective whole-building integrated solutions that enable this sector to realize deep energy savings successfully and affordably.

The Response

LBNL & Integral Group are developing cost-effective packages of pre-commercial and underutilized energy efficiency measures (EEMs) to inform a tool in the Commercial Building Energy Saver (CBES) online platform. This will enable small commercial building owners, contractors and other parties to evaluate cost-effective strategies for their building to achieve ZNE performance.  In the last phase of the project, a sample ZNE package will be retrofit and demonstrated in a northern California site.  The demonstration is targetted for 12 months of measurement and verification (M&V), as well as occupant engagement and an assessment of operational best practices to achieve and maintain ZNE operations.

Expected Results and their Benefits to California

The project will validate technical approaches to achieving ZNE performance in a notoriously impenetrable sector of real estate. The validation process will account for both the behavioral and technical results, tracking occupants’ thermal and visual comfort and identifying best practices for operations.

Assuming a 5% adoption rate by 2030, specific benefits include:

  • Lower Energy Use and Costs: $32M annually in electricity and natural gas cost savings.
  • Greater Reliability: 118 MW peak load reduction. This power could participate in wholesale or retail DR programs at fast time scales, allowing further integration of grid scale renewables.
  • GHG Avoidance: Approximately 83,000 metric tons of GHG emissions avoided.