Department of Energy aims at small buildings for green upgrades

As part of the Obama administration's renewed push for nationwide energy efficiency, the Department of Energy (DOE) has been predominantly targeting federal agencies and larger businesses for improved building codes and other eco-friendly upgrades in order to reduce the country's energy consumption. But now, the DOE is looking to expand its efforts to include smaller buildings too.

Schools, churches, restaurants, grocery stores, malls and the like account for 90 percent of all commercial buildings in the United States. Despite each of these properties averaging less than 50,000 square feet, they comprise 20 percent of the country's electricity use, a sobering statistic that makes these types of structures – despite their comparatively small stature – a prime target for energy efficiency retrofits. Working toward this end, DOE has begun appropriating $10 million to six programs that will create accessible, user-friendly tools for small businesses to take advantage of for making their building more sustainable. 

The initiative will place a heavy emphasis on the financial benefits of energy efficiency. In its report of the DOE plan, GreenBiz shares a hypothetical example of a grocery store that can raise its profit margins by 16 percent if it drops its electricity use by 10 percent. The program is deliberately designed to accommodate an issue that many have with installing green products: the upfront costs. While energy efficiency may yield long-term savings, the initial expense needed to make that improvement has been a serious deterrent for many. To work around this, the DOE programs will be providing businesses with hassle-free and easy-to-use tools that require very little financial investment or technical expertise.

Homeowners in Maryland can make cuts of their own to their electricity bill with a home inspection. Maryland home inspectors can perform an energy audit of your house, identifying ways in which your residence may be wasting energy and how you can both fix the problem and reduce your expenses.