Study measures energy efficiency against economic feasibility

Earlier today, NAIOP national released a report that looks at the levels of energy efficiency a standard office building can achieve while remaining economically feasible.

The study looked at whether commercial development could achieve reduction

The Casey in Portland is designed to use 52 percent less energy than a similar, conventional building

targets of between 30 and 50 percent above ASHRAE 90.1-2004. It compared results on a four-story, 95,000-square-foot, Class A office building in climate zones represented in Chicago, Baltimore and Newport Beach, Calif.

The results?

“Findings show that although significant energy efficiencies can be achieved (varying by climate zone), reaching a 30 percent reduction above the ASHRAE standard is not feasible using common design approaches and would exceed a 10-year payback. The study concluded that achieving a 50 percent reduction above the standard is not currently reachable.”

Here is the breakdown:

Chicago had a 23 percent increase in energy savings at a $188,523 cost increase at an 8.8 year payback.

Baltimore had a 21.5 percent increase in energy efficiency at a $165,148 cost increase at an 11 year payback.

Newport Beach had a 15.8 percent increase in energy savings at a $169,898 additional cost at a 12.2 year payback.

Ouch. Those are long paybacks for most developers. But then again, developers ARE targeting these goals and reaching them. Heck, there are net-zero buildings under development! NAIOP’s goal in developing this study was to prove that a one-size fits all approach does not work in green buildings, but that almost seems to holds true in countering the study, too. Though most of the developers who really push the green envelope, both in design and energy efficiency, are long-term holders of buildings.

Is that what it all comes down to? What a developer’s business model is?

The study also said elements of a holistic, integrated design approach that could create higher energy efficiencies were impractical in the study’s building prototype. The example the study gives is that a geothermal system requires an additional two acres of space, at least in the Newport Beach model.

To read the entire press release, go here.