DOE Announces First Product to Meet the Commercial Rooftop Air Conditioner Challenge

Department of EnergyAs part of the Obama Administration’s all-of-the-above energy strategy to help American families and businesses save money on their energy bills, the U.S. Department of Energy today announced that Daikin McQuay’s Rebel rooftop unit system is the first to meet DOE’s Rooftop Unit (RTU) Challenge. Five manufacturers—Daikin McQuay, Carrier, Lennox, 7AC Technologies, and Rheem—are participating in this challenge to commercialize highly efficient commercial air conditioners that satisfy a DOE-issued specification for energy savings and performance. The companies have until April 1, 2013 to submit a product for independent evaluation according to the specification. When built to meet the specification, these units are expected to reduce energy use by as much as 50% over current standards. Nationwide, if all 10 to 20 ton RTUs met the specification, businesses would save over $1 billion each year in energy costs, helping American companies better compete on a global scale.

Manufacturers nationwide have a strong motivation to produce highly energy-efficient air conditioning units for commercial buildings. Members in DOE’s Commercial Buildings Energy Alliances (CBEA), such as Target, Walmart, and other participating commercial building owners have expressed an interest in equipment that meets the new energy efficiency specification at an affordable price. The Department of Energy is evaluating potential demonstration sites for high performing products that meet the RTU Challenge. In addition, the Department is also developing analytical tools that enable businesses to more accurately estimate the energy and cost savings of using high performance RTUs in their facilities.

The RTU Challenge, aimed at spurring the market introduction of cost-effective, high-performance commercial rooftop unit air conditioners, was announced in January 2011. The specification that underpins the RTU Challenge was developed by DOE technical experts and informed by industry partners.

The final participant list was announced by Dr. Kathleen Hogan, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency, at the Energy Department’s first CBEA Efficiency Forum, a public stakeholder engagement event hosted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado. In addition to today’s announcements, the forum also featured a series of information exchanges on other energy efficiency initiatives that are underway. A full meeting report will be available on the CBEA Web page in the coming weeks. CBEA is comprised of building owners, managers, and operators that collaborate with the Energy Department and with each other to develop and deploy best practices, key decision-making tools, and advanced technologies for significant energy savings.

DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy accelerates development and facilitates deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and market-based solutions that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality. Learn more about the CBEA, Efficiency Forum, and RTU Challenge.

Top 10 states for LEED green buildings includes DC, CO, and IL

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has released its 2011 list of top 10 states for LEED-certified commercial and institutional green buildings per capita, based on the U.S. 2010 Census information. The District of Columbia leads the nation, with more than 31 square feet of LEED-certified space per person in 2011, with Colorado being the leading state, with 2.74 square feet per person in 2011.

Other top states include Illinois, Virginia and Washington, with 2.69, 2.42 and 2.18 square feet of LEED-certified space per person, respectively. The top LEED states per capita, including the District of Columbia:

Sq. ft. of space to earn LEED-
certification in 2011
Per capita
District of Columbia 18,954,022 31.50
Colorado 13,803,113 2.74
Illinois 34,567,585 2.69
Virginia 19,358,193 2.42
Washington 14,667,558 2.18
Maryland 11,970,869 2.07
Massachusetts 13,087,625 2.00
Texas 50,001,476 1.99
California 71,551,296 1.92
New York 36,538,981 1.89
Minnesota 9,591,445 1.81

LEED is the internationally recognized mark of green building excellence, with more than 44,000 projects commercial projects participating, comprising over 8 billion square feet of construction space in all 50 states and 120 countries. In addition, more than 16,000 homes have been certified under the LEED for Homes rating system, with more than 67,000 more homes registered.

Notable newly certified projects in 2011 include the Treasury Building in Washington, D.C., which is distinguished as the oldest LEED-certified project in the world; the LEED-Platinum Casey Middle School in Boulder, Colo.; the iconic Wrigley Building in Chicago, Ill.; Frito-Lay in Lynchburg, Va., which earned LEED Gold for the operations and maintenance of an existing building; the LEED Silver Hard Rock Café in Seattle, Wash.; Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis, Md.; Yawkey Distribution Center of The Greater Boston Food Bank in Mass.; the LEED Gold Austin Convention Center in TX; SFO’s LEED Gold Terminal 2 in San Francisco, Calif.; the LEED-Platinum Hotel Skylar in Syracuse, N.Y.; and the LEED Platinum Marquette Plaza in Minneapolis, Minn.

In December 2011, USGBC announced that LEED-certified existing buildings outpaced their newly built counterparts by 15 million square feet on a cumulative basis. A focus on heightened building performance through green operations and maintenance is essential to cost-effectively driving improvements in the economy and the environment.

DOE guide can help you save energy

Department of EnergyThe U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently released the third installment in a series of four 50% Advanced Energy Design Guides (AEDGs). This latest guide will help architects, engineers, and contractors design and build highly efficient retail buildings, helping to save energy and cut store operational costs. The 50% AEDG series provides a practical approach for designers and builders of retail stores, and other major commercial building types, to achieve 50% energy savings compared to the building energy code used in many parts of the nation. These commercial building guides support President Obama’s goal to reduce energy use in commercial buildings 20% by 2020. The Advanced Energy Design Guide for 50% energy savings in retail buildings is now available for download.

Beyond helping builders achieve efficiency exceeding the current energy code, the AEDGs also provide climate-specific recommendations to incorporate today’s off-the-shelf energy efficient building products. These recommendations help designers and builders choose advanced building assemblies, highly efficient heating and cooling systems, and incorporate other energy-saving measures such as daylighting and associated control systems. Additionally, efficiency measures found in the guides can be used in the development of future commercial building energy codes.

The 50% Advanced Energy Design Guide series is being developed through a partnership with the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), American Institute of Architects (AIA), U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), and Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA). The Retail Buildings guide is the third installment in the 50% series, and follows the guides for small and medium office buildings and K-12 schools released in 2011. The final 50% savings guide for major commercial building types—large hospitals—is also in progress.

DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) invests in clean energy technologies that strengthen the economy, protect the environment, and reduce dependence on foreign oil. Learn more about EERE’s support of building technologies. Additional information on DOE’s efforts to support the development and adoption of building energy codes can be found on the Energy Codes website.