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U.S. DOE's Risser to AESP: Buildings are Getting Smarter

In his keynote address to the spring conference of the Association of Energy Services Professionals here, Roland Risser, of the Building Technologies Office of the U.S. Department of Energy said that buildings should be, and are getting, smarter than ovens. But it will take some time.

In his humorous comparison to ovens, Risser noted that many buildings, particularly older ones, do not maintain the same temperature in all locations, and are generally not efficient. But his office is working to change that.

"Why can't your building be as smart as your car?" he asked.

But clearly the trend is toward smarter commercial buildings. In fact, in its annual State of the Industry report, the Association of Energy Services Professionals (AESP) today found that greatest amount of growth in adoption of energy efficiency measures will take place in large, commercial and industrial facilities, while growth rates in the residential sector remain a challenge.

In the survey when asked which sector was poised for the largest amount of growth in energy efficiency, 45.6 percent said small commercial and industrial facilities, and 38.7 percent said large scale commercial and industrial projects.

As one respondent to the survey said, "Many in this sector (commercial) are looking for cost savings in the sluggish economy and energy can be a substantial percent of their operating costs. An increasing number of these customers are putting in place corporate sustainability or energy efficiency policies. They also tend to have relationships with their utilities, which can be leveraged into energy efficiency program participation."

AESP conducted an online members' survey, which focused on identifying emerging trends and opportunities in the EE/DR industry, as well as providing demographic data on the survey respondents' organizations. The AESP Publications Committee developed the survey.

In addition, interviews were conducted with thought leaders from across the EE/DR industry, which provided insight into emerging trends, and key policy/program issues in 2013 and the coming years.
Risser told the AESP audience that challenges to upgrading building systems include coordination with the grid, and proprietary systems that need to be updated. And while his office is developing programs that can assist the private sector (see more at energy.gov/eere/buildings), a market-based system will ultimately be more effective.

And companies are beginning to see the rewards of becoming energy efficient. "When Wal-Mart or Target does something, everyone else notices because they have to compete," he said.

"The real win is when the market does something on its own," Risser said. "It shows people that this is the first step."

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