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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Unlocking Energy Efficiency in Small Commercial Buildings through Mechanical Contractors


Although buildings smaller than 4,645 m2 account for nearly half of the energy used in U.S. commercial buildings, energy-efficiency programs to date have primarily focused on larger buildings. Stakeholder interviews conducted during a scoping study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) indicated interest in energy efficiency from the small commercial building sector, provided solutions are simple and of low cost. To address this need, an energy management package (EMP) was developed to deliver energy management to small commercial buildings via HVAC contractors, because they already serve these clients and the transaction cost to market would be reduced. This energy-management approach is unique from, but often complementary to, conventional quality maintenance or retrofit-focused programs targeting the small commercial segment. This paper presents an overview of the EMP, the business model to deliver it, and preliminary demonstration findings from a pilot use of the EMP. Results from the pilot validated that contractors could deliver the EMP in 4-8 h per building per year and that energy savings of 3-5% are feasible through this approach.

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