IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007
Climate Change 2007: Working Group III: Mitigation of Climate Change Conventional retrofits of institutional and commercial buildings

There are numerous published studies showing that energy savings of 50 to 75% can be achieved in commercial buildings through aggressive implementation of integrated sets of measures. These savings can often be justified in terms of the energy-cost savings alone, although in other cases full justification requires consideration of a variety of less tangible benefits. In the early 1990s, a utility in California sponsored a 10 million US$ demonstration of advanced retrofits. In six of seven retrofit projects, an energy savings of 50% was obtained; in the seventh project, a 45% energy savings was achieved. For Rosenfeld (1999), the most interesting result was not that an alert, motivated team could achieve savings of 50% with conventional technology, but that it was very hard to find a team competent enough to achieve these results.

Other, recent examples that are documented in the published literature include:

  • A realized savings of 40% in heating, plus cooling, plus ventilation energy use in a Texas office building through conversion of the ventilation system from one with constant to one with variable air flow (Liu and Claridge, 1999);
  • A realized savings of 40% of heating energy use through the retrofit of an 1865 two-story office building in Athens, where low-energy was achieved through some passive technologies that required the cooperation of the occupants (Balaras, 2001);
  • A realized savings of 74% in cooling energy use in a one-story commercial building in Florida through duct sealing, chiller upgrade and fan controls (Withers and Cummings, 1998);
  • Realized savings of 50–70% in heating energy use through retrofits of schools in Europe and Australia (CADDET, 1997);
  • Realized fan, cooling and heating energy savings of 59, 63 and 90% respectively in buildings at a university in Texas; roughly half due to standard retrofit and half due to adjustment of the control-system settings (which were typical for North America) to optimal settings (Claridge et al., 2001).