Energy Star Building Designs Jump 60%

by | May 4, 2009

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energy-star-building2The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), together with American Institute of Architects (AIA), has recognized 75 new commercial building design projects for their energy efficiency under the Designed to Earn the ENERGY STAR. These projects represent a 60 percent increase in the number of qualifying projects over last year.

The Designed to Earn the ENERGY STAR connects the energy design intent of a building with its operating performance to energy efficiency throughout the building’s life cycle, says the EPA.

Aimed at creating less greenhouse gas emissions and reducing energy bills, this year’s 75 new projects are estimated to save nearly 100,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions and more than $6 million in energy costs annually across more than 14 million square feet. On average, these projects are estimated to reduce carbon emissions by 50 percent, which meets AIA’s goal for a 50 percent CO2 reduction on newly constructed buildings by 2010, according to the organization.

Since the program’s launch in 2004, nearly 170 building design projects submitted by 84 firms have achieved EPA’s Designed to Earn the ENERGY STAR. These projects — totaling nearly 28 million square feet of space — are designed to prevent more than 180,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions per year, a 46 percent reduction over average similar buildings, and save more than $12 million in annual energy costs.

A new study on energy efficiency in buildings indicates that the global building sector needs to cut energy consumption in buildings 60 percent by 2050 to help meet global climate change targets. According to The World Business Council for Sustainable Development, the building sector must achieve greater energy efficiency through a combination of public policies, technological innovation, informed customer choices, and smart business decisions.

Designing more energy-efficient buildings will also improve the financial performance of green office buildings. According to a recent study by The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, which evaluates the financial benefits of investing in green buildings that meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and/or Energy Star requirements, a commercial building with an environmental certification will rent for about three percent more per square foot with the difference in effective rent estimated at about six percent per square foot. The increment to the selling price may be as much as 16 percent, according to the study.

To help architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) professionals meet these goals by simplifying their energy-efficient building designs and retrofits, Autodesk Inc. has added Autodesk Ecotect Analysis 2010 software and an Online Guide to Sustainable Design.

This whole-building performance analysis tool provides a wide range of simulation and analysis functionality, which helps users to better understand earlier in the design process how environmental factors — such as solar, thermal, shading, lighting and airflow-will affect building performance, says Autodesk. Autodesk says its Ecotect software integrates EPA’s Energy Star Target Finder, meaning that whole building energy analyses include an estimated Energy Star score.

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