- Number 354 |
- January 16, 2012
Retailers ring up energy savings
NREL's Jennifer Scheib checks
lighting levels as Rois Langner
records them in the grocery
section of the SuperTarget in
Thornton, Colo. Target is a
DOE Commercial Building
Partnerships (CBP) Partner.
Credit: Dennis Schroeder
American retailers, with their brightly lit buildings and eye-catching displays depend on energy to drive consumers to their stores and sales.
The energy used for retail is significant, with Walmart often considered to be the largest private consumer of electricity in the U.S. Together, residential and commercial buildings account for a staggering 40 percent of energy use in the United States.
Although the power is always "on" for use in our country's buildings, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and its National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are working with the nation's commercial building owners — from retailers to offices and warehouses — to discover new and innovative ways to reduce commercial building energy use.
DOE's Commercial Building Partnerships (CBP) program is a public/private, cost-shared program that pairs selected commercial building owners with DOE's national laboratories and private-sector technical experts. The goal is challenging, yet simple: new commercial construction is designed to consume at least 50 percent less energy than today's code allows (ANSI/ASHRAE/IES Standard 90.1-2004), and retrofits are designed to consume at least 30 percent less energy.
Teams representing NREL, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) along with private sector experts provide technical know-how throughout the project. Working with companies and their design teams, laboratory staff identify energy efficiency technologies across building systems — including building envelope, HVAC, lighting, and miscellaneous electrical loads — all while using advanced energy modeling to achieve optimum whole-building performance.
"An underlying idea with CBP is to demonstrate that energy efficiency makes good business sense," NREL Senior Engineer Greg Stark said. "We are helping the companies develop better stores that use significantly less energy than their current prototypes — and for roughly same cost as their current buildings."
Coming up with energy saving solutions that can be repeated throughout the U.S. is a key CBP goal.
"It's important for us to work with these large companies because they can replicate the lessons learned across their building portfolios," Deru said. "Walmart is the largest private consumer of electricity in the U.S. and, because they are so big, they can make a large impact that ripples out into the industry by creating a marketplace for new energy efficient technologies."
Other opportunities abound to expand the program's reach. Current CBP projects represent more than 8 million square feet of commercial real estate. These same partners have committed to reproducing low-energy technologies and strategies throughout their building portfolios, which represent nearly 4 billion square feet of commercial real estate.
One retailer working with NREL is Target, the United States' second largest general merchandise retailer. "We worked with the engineering and design teams at Target to come up with a list of measures that would help them save energy at an existing Colorado store," Deru said. "In the end, we came up with solutions that exceeded the 30 percent energy savings goal for a retrofit project."
If the actual savings in the Thornton, Colo., SuperTarget match the modeling results, each year the store will save more than 2 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity and 3,300 therms of natural gas.
When the CBP program began a few years ago, it was mostly DOE and lab employees doing the work. Now, in an effort to share knowledge with industry, the teams are bringing in third-party design and engineering firms to help with projects. NREL, Stantec, and CTA Architects Engineers are working with Walmart to design a new store outside of Dallas.
"NREL clearly has done a lot of work on big retail projects, including looking at commercial refrigeration energy savings, which is a big part of one of the facilities we are currently looking at," Stantec Associate David Okada said. "It's been an enjoyable process to work with people who have pushed the envelope very far when it comes to energy savings. It's also great to be involved with pushing the savings to the next step."
Submitted by DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory