Small Buildings, Big Impacts: Developing a Library of Small Commercial Building Energy Efficiency Case Studies

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Small commercial buildings, or those comprising less than 50,000 square feet of floor area, make up 90% of the total number of buildings in the United States. Though these buildings

Small commercial buildings, or those comprising less than 50,000 square feet of floor area, make up 90% of the total number of buildings in the United States. Though these buildings currently account for less than 50% of total energy consumption in the U.S., this statistic is expected to change as larger commercial buildings become more efficient and thus account for a smaller percentage of commercial building energy consumption. This paper describes the efforts of a multi-organization collaboration and their demonstration partners in developing a library of case studies that promote and facilitate energy efficiency in the small commercial buildings market as well as a case study template that standardized the library. Case studies address five identified barriers to energy efficiency in the small commercial market, specifically lack of: 1) access to centralized, comprehensive, and consistent information about how to achieve energy targets, 2) reasonably achievable energy targets, 3) access to tools that measure buildings’ progress toward targets, 4) financial incentives that make the reduction effort attractive, and 5) effective models of how disparate stakeholders can collaborate in commercial centers to reach targets. The case study library can be organized by location, ownership type, decision criteria, building type, project size, energy savings, end uses impacted, and retrofit measures. This paper discusses the process of developing the library and case study template. Finally, the paper presents next steps in demonstrating the efficacy of the library and explores energy savings potential from broad implementation.