Department of Energy to focus on small buildings

With the White House making a new, concerted effort to implement greater energy efficiency standards across the country, the Department of Energy (DOE) is looking to add a new target to its list of priorities. While DOE has predominantly looked at federal agencies and large businesses as subjects for more stringent building codes and other sustainability upgrades, the department is now also looking to focus on reducing the energy consumption of smaller buildings too.

Ninety percent of all commercial buildings in the United States are less than 50,000 square feet. These properties include schools, churches, grocery stores, restaurants and malls. Despite their small stature, these buildings account for 20 percent of U.S. energy consumption. To amend this issue, DOE will spend $10 million on six initiatives designed to establish more accessible, user-friendly tools that businesses, school districts and other small building owners can take advantage of to become more sustainable.

GreenBiz reports that these programs will emphasize heavily on the fiscal benefits of energy efficiency. The source hypothesizes that a grocery store, for example, could improve its profit margins by 16 percent by curbing its electricity use by 10 percent.

The DOE projects are designed to amend a specific issue that many Americans have with green improvements: The upfront cost. Energy efficiency yields long-term savings, but the initial expenses required to make that upgrade have acted as a serious deterrent. To solve this, the DOE will offer businesses and other building owners easy-to-use, hassle-free tools that will help circumvent this cost deterrent with little financial investment or technical expertise required.

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