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The Next Green Challenge: Energy use in Existing Buildings

The Next Green Challenge
Reported by
Jill Pope

Posted May 23, 2008


The LEED green building rating system has set standards for new buildings, encouraging developers to greatly improve energy efficiency beyond the requirements of current codes. But the fact remains that most energy use occurs in already existing buildings. At the Academy's Green Buildings Discussion Group meeting on April 1, 2008, a panel of experts in energy efficiency explored the possibilities of reducing energy consumption by renovating existing buildings.

The stringency of building energy codes can play a major role in transforming our building stock, and simply bringing all existing buildings up to the more recent American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers code could save 45% on building energy consumption. Monitoring a building's energy consumption by analyzing its past energy bills is the essential first step in making energy-efficient renovations. After renovations are made, energy bills must be monitored over time to verify that the retrofits saved energy and money.

Web Sites

American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)
ASHRAE advances technology to serve humanity and promote a sustainable world.

Association for Energy Affordability (AEA)
Non-profit providing energy efficiency services to affordable housing in New York City.

Bright Power, Inc.
Consultants in energy efficiency and renewable energy.

New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA)
New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) is a public benefit corporation created in 1975 under Article 8, Title 9 of the State Public Authorities Law through the reconstitution of the New York State Atomic and Space Development Authority. NYSERDA strives to facilitate change through the widespread development and use of innovative technologies to improve the State's energy, economic, and environmental wellbeing.

Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future (SAHF)
A consortium of national affordable housing owners working to preserve affordability through energy efficiency.


Clark WH. 1997. Retrofitting for Energy Conservation. McGraw-Hill, New York City.

Freed EC. 2008. Green Building & Remodeling For Dummies. John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, NJ.

Wigginton M, Harris J. 2002. Intelligent Skins. Elsevier, London.

Wulfinghoff DR. 1999. Energy Efficiency Manual. Energy Institute Press, Wheaton, Maryland.


Aston A. 2007. Bank of America's Bold Statement in Green. Business Week (March 19). Full Text

Holness G. 2008. Improving Energy Efficiency in Existing Buildings. ASHRAE Journal (January).

Holness G. 2003. Smart Images for Project Management. ASHRAE Journal (January).

Kats G, Perlman J, Jamadagni S. 2005. National Review of Green Schools: Costs, Benefits, and Implications for Massachusetts. A Report for the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. A Capital E Report (December). (PDF, 814 KB) Full Text

Kats G, Alevantis L, Berman A, et al. 2003. The Costs and Financial Benefits of Green Buildings. A Capital E Report (October). Full Text

Pasternack A. 2006. Beijng's Eco-Friendly Architecture. China Dialogue (December 20). Full Text

Ritchie E. 2005. DE Takes Green Buildings to New Heights. Distributed Energy (January/February). Full Text

Sandhana L. 2006. Smart Buildings Make Smooth Moves. Wired (August 31). Full Text

Warren A. 2007. EU Directive to Make Businesses More Efficient. Telegraph (October 31). Full Text

Weinberger E. 2008. It takes patience to green a village. City Limits Weekly #631 (March 17).
This article is about "Greening A Block," a community-based project to take a typical NYC block and make all the buildings and units more energy efficient.


Gordon V. R. Holness

Albert Kahn Associates, Inc.

Gordon V. R. Holness is chairman emeritus of Albert Kahn Associates, Inc. Architects and Engineers, in Detroit. He retired from the firm in 2001 having served for over 32 years including roles as chief mechanical engineer, treasurer, board member, president, and CEO. He currently serves in a consulting capacity and as an expert witness for design and construction issues.

Holness is a professional engineer, registered in 42 states and 5 provinces. He is a chartered engineer in the United Kingdom. He has over 50 years experience in design and construction, specifically in mechanical engineering services for industrial, health care, and institutional buildings in England, Canada, and the United States.

Holness joined the American Society of Heating Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) in 1965 and is currently society treasurer serving on the Board of Directors and as chair of the Finance Committee, vice chair of Members council and the Advocacy Committee. He has won 12 Regional and National Awards for Technology and Energy Conservation.

Jeffrey Perlman

Bright Power, Inc.
web site

Jeffrey Perlman is the president and founder of Bright Power, Inc. With Bright Power he has developed and managed photovoltaic, solar thermal, energy efficiency, and peak -demand-reduction natural gas generator projects as well as provided energy auditing services. He also works with the Association for Energy Affordability as both an energy auditor and project manager for the Greening A Block project.

Prior to founding Bright Power, Perlman worked as an independent consultant in energy efficiency, solar energy, and green buildings. His projects included co-authoring, with Greg Kats at Capital E, the ground-breaking report, The Costs and Financial Benefits of Green Buildings, which used economic cost/benefit analysis to show that building healthy, energy-efficient, and environmentally responsible buildings makes economic sense, too. Other projects have included assessment of new solar technologies, business plan development and financial/market analysis. Perlman is a LEED-accredited green buildings professional and has received training as Building Performance Institute BA-I and Shell Specialist (he did not pursue these certifications because his focus shifted from residential to commercial buildings). He has a degree in applied physics from Yale University.

Beth Heider


Beth Heider is vice president of preconstruction for Skanska USA Building, Inc., in Alexandria, VA. She has been associated with Hanscomb, OMNI Construction, and Clark Construction Group, and has worked as an architect with several major architectural firms in the US. Heider's 26 years of professional experience include all phases of design and construction from master planning through project closeout as licensed architect, contractor, cost manager, and VE facilitator.

Heider participated in the University of Virginia's Graduate Program in Venice, Italy. From 1999 to 2004, she served as an adjunct professor at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, School of Engineering.

Jill Pope

Jill Pope is a science writer and editor who lives in Brooklyn, NY.