You are busy with sales calls, continuous improvement initiatives and seeking opportunities to grow your business. You probably don’t have the time to read 400+ pages from the DOE’s Quadrennial Technology Review of energy technologies and research opportunities. So I’m going to break down a few of the highlights and points that have the greatest relevance to our industry.

  1. Current & Future Energy Usage in Buildings. Buildings account for 76 percent of electricity use and 40 percent of all primary energy use. By 2030, building energy use could be cut by 20 percent using cost effective technologies and 35 percent if DOE research goals are met. This takes into account current successes already in place.

 You might recall that I reported on the Better Buildings Symposium earlier this year and, at that time, the DOE had achieved substantial energy savings already. Based on successes to date, the target numbers have become more aggressive than those in the 2012 roadmap.

  1. Rapid Adoption Is Critical. The DOE is also increasing its focus on market-focused programs to encourage rapid adoption, something I have also talked about in previous blogs. Programs include standards, labels and other policies that help consumers understand the costs and benefits of energy efficient technologies.
  1. Retrofit Solutions Wanted. Half of all commercial buildings in operation were built before 1970; therefore the DOE is emphasizing the need for energy-efficient retrofit solutions based on the life expectancy of buildings.
  1. Windows Are a Priority. HVAC accounts for 35 percent of total building energy use and remains the highest priority when it comes to building envelope technologies. But windows are high on the list as well.

The report indicated that Energy Star technologies could reduce residential energy consumption by 30 percent, and the best currently available technologies could reduce consumption by up to 50 percent.  Furthermore, current residential technologies are available at R-5.9 (u-0.17) and $63/square ft. The target by the year 2020, is R-10 at a cost of $10/square ft. Again, these numbers are more aggressive than previous versions of the roadmap.

The DOE also continues to ramp up its investment in windows and surfaces with tunable optical properties to manage heat gain in hot and cold climate seasons.

The View from Here

The DOE continues to update RDD&D priorities for building technologies, and windows remain high on the priority list. It’s clear that the numbers are going to continuously get more aggressive, and we all have to be prepared to capitalize.  I believe winners will find creative solutions that keep them competitive as pressure and consumer demand for energy efficiency increases.

Staying informed is critical. So, if you want to dig deeper into the report, I recommend starting with Chapter 5, Efficiency of Building Systems and Technologies).


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