Oct 9, 2018

Accelerating Energy Performance in Large Buildings

A Community-wide Approach to Reducing Energy Waste in St. Paul’s Large Buildings.


For many mid-to-large sized cities, large buildings (50,000 square feet and more) are a primary source of greenhouse gas emissions and a major opportunity for emissions reduction through energy efficiency efforts. This study was conducted to support city strategies that save energy in large buildings. Nearly a dozen St. Paul building operators and other building professionals were interviewed for this report, and the authors conducted a review of other efforts nationally, to inform the report recommendations.

Since the primary goal is finding solutions that achieve large energy reductions at the lowest cost to building owners, this report focuses on operational efficiency — operating existing building equipment at its optimal level of energy usage. Studies have shown operational savings of 10% to 30% are achievable in most buildings that are not already aggressively pursuing operational efficiency. 

In this report we detail our findings on the organizational and technical barriers to pursuing operational energy efficiency projects. We provide an outline of an ambitious program concept (as part of a larger community-driven building energy challenge) that would comprehensively address barriers to operational efficiency and provide services to help building owners and operators achieve energy savings at low or no cost. These efforts are complimentary to, and can increase uptake for efforts to achieve comprehensive retrofits in existing buildings.

Thank you to the City Energy Project and their funders for helping to fund this project.