Make Buildings More Energy Efficient

Room Thermostat

Target: U.S. Secretary of Energy Dr. Ernest Moniz

Goal: Implement energy efficiency standards for buildings to help the environment and reduce pollution

Commercial buildings consume huge amounts of energy, and despite modern materials which improve efficiency, new commercial buildings are not required to install efficient climate control systems. Sixty percent of all energy produced is used for building climate control. A study by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory found that the electricity used for climate control in commercial buildings could be cut by 75 percent with energy-efficient systems. The study was conducted over a year in a wide range of buildings, including malls and grocery stores.

Heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems account for approximately 40 percent of the electricity used in commercial buildings. In many of these buildings, the HVAC system is worn and outdated. Air conditioners today use 30 to 50 percent less electricity than their 1970s predecessors. Even 10-year-old air conditioners can be replaced for models 20 percent more efficient. Pre-made or “package” HVAC units allow complete control and many newer systems require little manual operation, since they can be set to start and stop cooling, heating and humidity control remotely, day in and day out.

From using lights that emit less heat to capitalizing on solar gain, there are myriad energy-saving solutions to climate control in buildings.

Despite these advances, there aren’t regulations ensuring new buildings install these environmentally responsible, energy-saving units. While the initial cost of modern HVAC controls is comparatively large, the benefits abound both in energy and cost efficiency. Urge the Department of Energy to implement regulations on new commercial buildings emphasizing energy efficient HVAC controls.


Dear Dr. Moniz,

Commercial buildings account for a large amount of energy usage, roughly 40 percent of which is utilized by heating, ventilating and air-conditioning units. Despite technologies which have been proven to cut energy use in commercial buildings by as much as 75 percent, there aren’t regulations requiring these far more efficient systems in the construction of new commercial buildings.

The modern air conditioner uses 30 to 50 percent less energy than those in the 1970s. There are cooler lights which have less impact on temperature, HVAC units capable of temperature control in correlation with the building’s use, building models which capitalize on the natural environment, taking conditions such as solar gain into account.

Though the initial cost of these modern systems is higher, energy consumption is far lower and the utility savings pay for the setup many times over in the long term. I urge you to implement new regulations which focus on the longevity and responsibility of consumption and our environmental impact.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Andy Butjak via Flickr

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