August 03, 2011

A recent report by Better Bricks identifies 50 building retrofits that have demonstrated or predicted performance of 30% or better than the average for comparable buildings. The report offers some insights into how these projects achieved extraordinary energy efficiency.

Projects ranged in size from 2,300-950,000 sf, and all employed efficiency measures in at least two of four categories:

  • Lighting – Incorporation oftask lighting, lighting controls, and daylighting.
  • HVAC - Replacement or alteration to mechanical equipment. Includes active and passive heating and cooling methods.
  • Controls -Includes the addition of an Energy Monitoring System (EMS), Building Automation System (BAS), Building Management System (BMS) and/or lighting/occupancy controls.
  • Envelope – Insulation upgrades; cool roofs; high-efficiency windows, including the use of tinting.

A key to maximizing efficiency in a rehab is to take a holistic approach to the project. “Buildings are systems, and integrative, whole-building strategies recognize how one kind of efficiency gain can affect other building systems and attributes,” according to the Rocky Mountain Institute ( “For example, improvements to the building envelope can reduce mechanical system loads and equipment, which in turn may increase usable floor area. Simply by recognizing how systems are interrelated, design teams can cause small improvements to cascade into substantially larger benefits.” 


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