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Commercial buildings are an important piece of the energy consumption picture. According to the 2012 CBECS data, there are more than 87 billion square feet of existing commercial floor space in the United States, and approximately 82% of the commercial building stock was built before 1999. This represents a significant opportunity to ensure that energy codes are properly applied to safeguard that existing buildings meet their performance potential through any renovation process.

However, despite the energy savings potential and long-term benefits, both existing and new buildings are not achieving the code-mandated energy performance due to lack of full compliance with code requirements. These three studies and resources analyze and identify what factors contribute to this shortfall in existing buildings, specifically, and what opportunities there exist for the major stakeholder groups involved in the industry.


BCAP Studies

Study by Building Codes Assistance Project and United Technologies Research Center
Building energy codes and standards are essential to ensure that new buildings meet minimum levels of performance with respect to energy consumption. But there is evidence that buildings – both existing and new – are not achieving the code-mandated energy performance when they are built or renovated due to lack of full compliance with code requirements. Many factors contribute to this shortfall, and this report identifies those that are relevant to existing commercial buildings based on analysis of practices in the greater Philadelphia region.

This report identifies the underlying causes of slippage, and identifies ways in which the code application and enforcement processes can be improved to ensure that existing buildings reach their energy savings potential when intervention opportunities arise.

Read the report here.


Renovation Projects

Existing Commercial Building Renovation Projects: Gaps and Recommendations

From interviews and surveys with various stakeholders in addition to detailed analysis of the existing building renovation process, BCAP aimed to characterize and quantify code slippage (i.e. the gap between energy savings potential and the savings actually achieved) and corresponding opportunities/actions existing in the process. The focus was to examine the code application process and interactions between stakeholders to identify gaps and opportunities. This project summarizes the process, gaps and opportunities that were identified from our conversations with stakeholders.

News and Helpful Links


More Resources

This section offers studies and reports on existing commercial buildings and the relevant building energy codes. Topics range from the energy codes’ potential energy savings to best practices in regulatory approaches to developing technical assistance programs and etc. Many of the listed studies below were cited in BCAP’s own studies on existing commercial buildings.

Title Date Author
The Benefits of Benchmarking Building Performance December 2015 Institute for Market Transformation, Pacific Coast Collaborative
Existing Buildings Energy Efficiency Action Plan September 2015 California Energy Commission
Guide to State and Local Energy Performance Regulations: Version 3.0 August 2015 Institute for Market Transformation, Commercial Real Estate Services
Improving Code Compliance – Change Of Occupancy: A Project Of The Consortium For Building Innovation February 2015 Jennifer Senick and David Hattis, Rutgers Center for Green Building
New York City Local Law 84 Benchmarking Report September 2014 PlaNYC
Climate Change: Implications for Buildings
Key Findings from the Intergovernmental Panel in Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report
June 2014 World Business Council for Sustainable Development
90 Percent Compliance Pilot Studies Final Report June 2013 US Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Utilities’ Guide to Data Access for Building Benchmarking March 2013 Institute for Market Transformation, Energy Efficient Buildings Hub
Engaging as Partners: Introducing Utilities to the Energy Efficiency Needs of Multifamily Buildings and Their Owners March 2013 American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), Elevate Energy
Scaling Up Multifamily Energy Efficiency Programs: A Metropolitan Area Assessment March 2013 American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE)
Attributing Building Energy Code Savings to Energy Efficiency Programs February 2013 Institute for Market Transformation, Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships, Institute for Electric Innovation
Assessment of Energy Efficiency Achievable from Improved Compliance with U.S. Building Energy Codes: 2013 – 2030 February 2013 Institute for Market Transformation
Energy Transparency in the Multifamily Housing Sector: Assessing Benchmarking and Disclosure Policies December 2012 Institute for Market Transformation
Existing Building Renewal/ Commercial Real Estate Research: Market Characterization, Attitudes and Behavior of Owners and Service Providers November 2012 Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) and SBW Consulting
DataTrends: Energy Use Benchmarking October 2012 US Environmental Protection Agency
Report on Expert Recommendations to Increase the Pace and Scope of the Building Retrofit Market October 2012 James L. Wolf, Energy & Environmental Consultant
Impact of the 2009 and 2012 International Energy Conservation Code in Multifamily Buildings March 2012 National Multifamily Housing Council
United States Building Energy Efficiency Retrofits: Market Sizing and Financing Models March 2012 The Rockefeller Foundation, DB Climate Change Advisors-Deutsche Bank Group
Removing Barriers to Compliance: Energy Code Compliance Task Force Recommendations February 2012 U.S. Department of Energy, Southface, Sustainable Atlanta
Building Energy Efficiency in Philadelphia: Current Landscape and Recommendations for Increasing Energy Efficiency in Philadelphia’s Housing Stock February 2012 Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia and the City of Philadelphia Mayor’s Office of Sustainability
New York Energy Code Compliance Study January 2012 The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, Vermont Energy Investment Corporation
Policy And Market Macro Modeling Mid-Sized Offices In The GPIC Region January 2012 United Technologies Research Center, Robust Systems and Strategy
Improved Code Enforcement: A Powerful Policy Tool, Lessons Learned from New York State January 2012 Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, Cx Associate, Energy Futures Group, and Wirtshafter Associates, Inc.
The Market for Commercial Property Energy Retrofits in the Philadelphia Region November 2011 Econsult Solutions
Increasing Energy Efficiency in Existing Multifamily Buildings: An Overview of Challenges, Opportunities, and Policy Tools October 2011 Cities of Berkeley, Oakland, and Emeryville
Policy and Process Factors Impacting Commercial Building Energy Efficiency in Pennsylvania and New Jersey October 2011 Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster (GPIC) for Energy-Efficient Buildings Policy Markets and Behavior Task Team
A Case for Deep Savings: 11 Case Studies of Deep Energy Retrofits September 2011 New Buildings Institute
A Search for Deep Energy Savings August 2011 New Buildings Institute
Integrating Codes and Standards into Electric Utility Energy Efficiency Portfolios August 2011 Institute for Electric Efficiency
Examples of Deep Energy Savings in Existing Buildings July 2011 Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA)
Business Case for Energy Efficiency: Building Retrofit and Renovation 2011 Dodge Construction
(formerly McGraw-Hill Construction)
Commercial Energy Policy Toolkit: Benchmarking and Disclosure 2010 Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI)
Toward A Future Model Energy Code For Existing And Historic Buildings November 2010 New Buildings Institute, National Trust for Historic Preservation, City of Seattle, Green Building Services
Drexel University Year 1: GPIC Policy, Markets, and Behavior Research January 2010 Drexel University and the Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster (GPIC) for Energy Efficient Buildings
Energy Efficiency Potential in Existing Commercial Buildings: Review of Selected Recent Studies April 2009 Pacifc Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL)
Energy Efficiency and the Finance Sector: A survey on lending activities and policy issues January 2009 United Nations Environment Programme
Retrofit, Renew, Renovate: A Strategic Guide for Renovating and Renewing Existing Facilities 2009 Ayers Saint Gross Architects
Going Green Outside: Selling Energy Management Solution Case Studies
Utility and ESCO Partnerships
2009 National Association of Electrical Distributors
Energy Code Enforcement and Compliance in Pennsylvania: Lessons from the Field July 2008 Pennsylvania Housing Research Center
Energy Efficiency in the North American Existing Building Stock July 2007 International Energy Agency (IEA)
New Codes for Old Buildings: Comparing Rehabilitation Codes and Evaluating Their Effects January 2007 University of Pennsylvania
Aligning Utility Interests with Energy Efficiency Objectives: A Review of Recent Efforts at Decoupling and Performance Initiatives October 2006 American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE)
Development of an Energy-Savings Calculation Methodology for Residential Miscellaneous Electric Loads August 2006 National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
Rehabilitating Rehab Through State Building Codes April 2006 Yale Law Journal
Options for Energy Efficiency In Existing Buildings December 2005 California Energy Commission
Analysis of the Design and Energy Performance of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Cambria Office Building March 2005 National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
Philadelphia High-Performance Building Renovation Guidelines 2004 City of Philadelphia

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This page was last modified on: December 29, 2016