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Better Buildings Initiative Expanding to Increase Efficiency of U.S. Laboratories

As part of the Obama Administration's effort to cut energy waste in the nation's buildings and facilities, today the U.S. Department of Energy is launching the Better Buildings Smart Labs Accelerator to advance energy efficiency in laboratory buildings owned and operated by universities, corporations, national laboratories, hospitals, and federal agencies. Through the new Better Buildings Smart Labs Accelerator, partners will pursue ambitious energy-saving targets and strategies that will address key barriers to improving energy efficiency.

A typical laboratory is nearly four times more energy intensive than an average commercial building and can account for up to 70% of a given campus' energy footprint. It's estimated that if all laboratory buildings improved their energy efficiency by 20%, annual energy and cost savings could reach about 40 trillion British Thermal Units or $1 billion.

"Working together, Better Buildings Smart Labs Accelerator partners will create road maps that they and organizations across the country can use to dramatically improve the energy efficiency of their labs and reduce costs," said Kathleen Hogan, U.S. Department of Energy, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency. "Low-cost operational changes, more capital-intensive technological upgrades, and robust strategic energy management systems are all approaches that will be explored and developed through this Accelerator."

The following organizations announced they are joining the Smart Labs Accelerator, committing to improve the efficiency of their laboratories by 20% in 10 years, with 5% savings coming within 3 years through no- and low-cost measures:

  • Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
  • Los Alamos National Laboratory
  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory
  • Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
  • University of California, Irvine
  • University of Colorado

Through the Accelerator, these partners will collaborate, share results, lessons learned and solutions to demonstrate best practices approaches, detail no- and low-cost energy saving practices, advance industry driven guidance regarding metering and benchmarking, identify code-related barriers to efficiency and recommend changes, and develop post-Accelerator next steps. As solutions are developed, they will be made available on the Better Buildings Solution Center.

DOE national laboratories, including the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, are supporting the Smart Labs Accelerator in partnership with the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories. They will provide partners with technical expertise, tools, and training and facilitate network opportunities.

Better Buildings Accelerators are part of the broader Better Buildings Initiative, which aims to make commercial, public, industrial, and residential buildings 20% more energy efficient over the next decade. Through Better Buildings, public and private sector organizations across the country are working together to share and replicate successful strategies to drive energy efficiency. This means saving billions of dollars on energy bills, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and creating thousands of jobs. 

Distribution channels: Energy