Small Commercial Building Energy Efficiency

The Challenge

Small commercial buildings represent an immense untapped opportunity for energy efficiency. There are more than 4.4 million small commercial buildings (less than 50,000 square feet) in the US. In aggregate, the owner-operators of small commercial buildings spend more than $45 billion for energy annually and use 2.5 billion MMBTU resulting in emission of 146 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year. Increasing energy efficiency for these smaller buildings can have significant impact for the owner/operators and the global environment.

The challenge for small commercial buildings is that few low-cost options are available to reduce energy consumption, cost, and emissions with acceptable payback, typically less than1 or at most 2 years for most owner/operators. Energy management systems and full-scale physical audits are not cost-effective for these smaller facilities. As a result, the segment is substantively underserved.

Reducing energy efficiency program costs below $300 per building could make programs feasible and cost effective for an additional 2 million US buildings. The potential energy cost savings would be more than $5.5 billion. The addressable market revenues are more than $770 million.

The Solution

Mason Energy + Management (MEAM) and its partners have developed a next generation building energy efficiency methodology that reduces costs below $300 per building using satellite/aerial images, available billing data, occupant/employee engagement, rapid building modeling and analysis, and process innovation in conjunction with low/no cost energy efficiency measures.

The approach is implemented remotely, without fielding an audit team. It has been validated in a demonstration using a manual minimally viable approach with a national fast casual restaurant chain. The demonstration identified more than a dozen low/no cost energy efficiency measures (EEM) with less than one-year payback that could be implemented in phases in order to fund EEM out of annual operating budgets with positive net cash flow. This approach is particularly timely given the current pandemic and resulting acceleration of remote performance of knowledge-based services.