This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

August 28, 2012

California Better Buildings Challenge Partners Showcase Energy Savings Projects with U.S. Energy Department Officials

As part of the Obama Administration's all-of-the-above approach to American energy, the Energy Department this week joined with three of the nation's energy efficiency leaders to showcase three new commercial energy efficiency projects that are delivering significant energy and cost savings for California businesses. The three companies—SuperValu grocery stores, U.C. Irvine, and HEI Hotels and Resorts—have committed to reducing the energy used across their building portfolio 20% by 2020 as part of President Obama's Better Buildings Challenge. The Better Buildings Challenge is part of the Obama Administration's comprehensive strategy to improve the competitiveness of American industry and business, by helping companies to save money by reducing energy waste in commercial and industrial buildings. Under the Challenge, private sector CEOs, university presidents, and state and local leaders commit to taking aggressive steps to reduce the energy used in their facilities and sharing data and best practices with others around the country.

"These projects in California exemplify what businesses across the U.S. can do to reduce costs, increase their competitiveness, and protect our air and water," said Dr. David Danielson, DOE Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. "Across the U.S., the buildings in which we work, shop and study account for a significant portion of our nation's energy use, costing businesses and other organizations approximately $200 billion each year. These companies are leading by example, investing in energy efficiency improvements that reduce energy waste and save money."

Commercial buildings and industrial plants in the U.S account for more than 40% of the nation's energy use and produce 40% of the country's carbon dioxide emissions. To reduce energy use and improve the competitiveness of American businesses, the Better Buildings Challenge supports commercial and industrial building owners by providing technical assistance and facilitating communications on best practices between Challenge partners. Participating organizations save money on their utility bills through energy efficiency measures such as adopting efficient lighting, using air quality sensors, and upgrading older HVAC systems.

Over 100 organizations, including more than 300 manufacturing plants, have joined the Better Buildings Challenge. Together, partner organizations represent 2 billion square feet of building space and have committed almost $2 billion to support energy efficiency improvements in buildings nationwide. Assistant Secretary Danielson visited SUPERVALU's Albertsons grocery store in Carpinteria and U.C. Irvine's Natural Science II building on August 27. The Director of the Energy Department's Better Building Challenge, Maria Vargas, is visiting HEI Hotels and Resorts' Marriot La Jolla hotel near San Diego on August 28.

About the projects:


Albertson's Carpinteria store is one of the most energy-efficient and environmentally friendly supermarkets in the country. As part of the 2012 remodel, the company more than doubled the size of the store and added new departments, while reducing the energy use per square foot by 30%.

"This recognition by the Department of Energy and inclusion in the Better Buildings Challenge has motivated us to look for additional upgrades that will reduce even more in-store energy costs," said Dan Sanders, president of Albertsons Southern California Division. "And, of course, these same energy-saving technologies will be incorporated throughout SUPERVALU's banners across the country."


U.C. Irvine (UCI) reduced energy use in its Natural Science II building by 51%, even though the building already outperformed California's energy code by 20%. The building is part of UCI's Smart Labs Initiative, which has successfully cut energy consumption in laboratory space by more than half using "smart" energy controls for air conditioning, ventilation, and lighting. These efficiencies are projected to save $150,000 per year in this lab alone, and many times this amount across the campus.

"The Smart Labs Initiative is the current expression of our long term comprehensive energy-savings program," said UCI Chancellor Michael Drake. "We joined the Better Buildings Challenge to demonstrate our commitment to energy efficiency and to share our results and experiences with our peers."

HEI Hotels and Resorts

HEI's renovation of the Marriott La Jolla hotel near San Diego includes a lighting upgrade, programmable thermostats in guest rooms, and upgraded HVAC controls. These upgrades, combined with the hotel's new chiller and two new boilers, will result in a 27% reduction in energy use in 2013 and will save the company an expected $200,000 annually.

"More and more of our guests are asking for cutting edge energy-efficient technologies in the places they stay," said Gary Mendell, Chairman of HEI Hotels & Resorts. "As the owner of 11,000 guest rooms and suites located in 16 states, we are working with the Better Buildings Challenge to deliver savings while continuing to provide a first-class customer experience."

For more information please visit the Better Buildings Challenge website.