SDGBC 2014 Conference: Energy Performance for Buildings

Panelists: Beth Brummit (moderator, Brummitt Energy Associates, SDGBC president), Jorge Torres Coto (Empirical Engineering), Marc Costa (Energy Coalition), Jim Weiner (Collaborative Project Consulting)


Jim Weiner is the founder of Collaboration Project Consulting, a firm that aims to "re-engineer the project delivery process to create better buildings."

Resilience: An elegance with respect to problem solving

There are numerous government incentives designed to improve energy efficiency in our state, alone:

  • PACE (AB 811 / SB 555)
  • Better Buildings Challenge
  • California's Best Buildings
  • EcoDistricts Protocol
  • 2030 Districts (700 buildings in L.A.'s downtown core)

In order to achieve real progress in terms of energy efficiency, we have to make sure that we have effective measurement of current usage, and can therefore set the proper baselines. Sharing ideas of meaningful targets, opportunities and ideas for achieving those goals, we empower facilities and operations management.

Energy + Water + Health

New buildings under design begin with assumptions about what a similarly sized building that does not actually exist. Existing building upgrades are based on comparison to real data based on an actual building. In the case of both new buildings and existing building upgrades, the actual energy usage and energy use intensity are often not the same as what energy modelers intended. Therefore, the role of occupants and operators cannot be underestimated.

More than 90% of energy extracted from the ground is wasted before it comes useful work.

Coto showed numerous examples of construction defects on recent projects that have led to water intrusion, mold, increased VOCs, poor indoor air quality, and reduced energy efficiency. We have to think about how what we build and where we build and how those choices impact the surrounding community and environment.

As a demonstration, Coto showed a picture of Las Vegas from about 50 years ago next to a picture of the city now, lit up at night. As he said, if we can build such a magnificent city out of nothing in just 50 years, then we ought to be able to come up with ways to fix the problems that have come about as a result.

The Energy Coalition: Big Data or Big Opportunity

Marc Costa is a program manager at 501(c)(3) community benefit nonprofit, Energy Coalition. The organization's mission is to empower governments, businesses and schools to be energy-responsible communities. Much of the organization's work is to link concepts like Big Data -- leveraging data sets that are so large that they can't be processed in traditional manners -- with energy efficiency. In other words, The Energy Coalition takes a high-tech evidence-based approach to reducing energy use.

One of the organization's campaigns is to encourage local government jurisdictions to move to online permitting for capital improvements. Doing so will bring substantial data into the public that could be used to better understand the types of buildings being built.

There are numerous sources of data, and the goal is to find better and more efficient ways of sharing that information. In addition, there are various open source projects that aim to aggregate and easily analyze data relevant to energy usage.

Future opportunities include:

  • AB 1103
  • AB 758
  • Program design
  • Code impacts
  • Interoperability
  • Private sector and industry software/API development