Buildings are one of the largest end users of energy. The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) reported that buildings represent nearly 40% of final energy used globally. A large percentage of electricity is consumed in houses, office buildings, shops, and malls.
Building materials used for walls, doors, windows, roofs and floors could be such that energy efficiency is optimized. The design of a structure, specifications, architectural features and materials to be used should all be integrated to offer energy efficient buildings. Energy consumption is not only dependent on a building being efficiently designed and constructed, but also on the interior and technology used.
In the U.S., it is the federal policy to promote the conservation and the efficient use of energy and water and the use of renewable energy sources[i]. The President establishes or coordinates federal agency actions to develop mandatory standards with respect to energy conservation and energy efficiency to govern the procurement policies and decisions of the federal government. All Federal agencies adopt steps that are necessary to cause such standards to be implemented[ii].
In order to encourage energy efficiency in buildings, regional centers must be established to promote energy efficient lighting, heating and cooling, and building design[iii]. The Secretary of energy makes grants to nonprofit institutions for that purpose. Grants are given to nonprofit institutions, State and local governments, universities, and utilities, to establish or enhance one regional building energy efficiency center in regions served by a Department of Energy regional support office[iv].
The regional centers provide[v]:
- information, training, and technical assistance to building professionals. Building professionals include architects, designers, engineers, contractors, and building code officials. Information includes building energy efficiency technologies, lighting, heating, cooling, and passive solar;
- operate an outreach program to inform such building professionals of the benefits and opportunities of energy efficiency, and of the services of the center;
- provide displays demonstrating building energy efficiency methods and technologies, such as lighting, windows; and heating and cooling equipment;
- coordinate its activities and programs with other institutions within the region, such as State and local governments, utilities, and educational institutions, in order to support their efforts to promote building energy efficiency;
- serve as a clearinghouse to ensure that information about new building energy efficiency technologies, including case studies of successful applications, is disseminated to end-users in the region;
- study the building energy needs of the region and make available region-specific energy efficiency information to facilitate the adoption of cost-effective energy efficiency improvements;
- assist educational institutions in establishing building energy efficiency engineering and technical programs and curricula; and
- evaluate the performance of the center in promoting building energy efficiency.
Additionally, the Secretary of energy in consultation with the Administrator of General Services establish an Advanced Building Efficiency Test bed program for the development, testing, and demonstration of advanced engineering systems, components, and materials. The purpose is to enable innovations in building technologies. The program evaluates efficiency concepts for government and industry buildings. It demonstrates the ability of next generation buildings to support individual and organizational productivity. The program demonstrates technological change to improve environmental sustainability[vi].
Moreover, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 provides for the establishment of an Advanced Building Efficiency Testbed program for the development, testing, and demonstration of advanced engineering systems, components, and materials to enable innovations in building technologies. The Act provides that all Federal buildings be metered for the purposes of efficient energy use and reduction in the cost of electricity used in such buildings. Advanced meters or metering devices provide daily data and measure the consumption of electricity hourly.
Additionally, the Act provides that to the extent practicable, various cabinet officers must seek to incorporate energy efficient technologies in public and administrative buildings associated with public lands and natural resources managed by those departments[vii].
In order to further the use of coal and other alternate fuels as primary energy sources for existing and new electric power plants and major fuel-burning installations, in lieu of natural gas or petroleum the Power plant and Industrial Fuel Use Act of 1978 was created[viii]. The Energy Supply and Environmental Coordination Act of 1974 provides for the issuance of orders prohibiting power plants and other major fuel burning installations from burning natural gas or petroleum products as the primary energy source[ix].
[i] 42 USCS § 8252.
[ii] 42 USCS § 6361.
[iii] 42 USCS § 13458.
[iv] 42 USCS § 13458.
[v] 42 USCS § 13458.
[vi] 42 USCS § 15812.
[vii] 42 USCS § 15812, 15813.
[viii] 42 USCS § 8301.
[ix] 15 USCS § 791.