Untapped Potential Of Commercial Buildings: Energy Use and Emissions

July 1, 2010

A new study identifies commercial buildings as a stealth drain on the state's energy resources and economy. The report, UNTAPPED POTENTIAL OF COMMERCIAL BUILDINGS: ENERGY USE AND EMISSIONS, produced by Collaborative Economics for Next 10, finds that the energy efficiency or lack thereof in commercial buildings has a significant impact on California's economy, the state's overall energy use, global warming pollution emissions and jobs.

Highlights of the study :

  • Electricity consumed by commercial office buildings represents 37 percent of california's total electricity consumption. Based on the U.S. average, energy efficiency improvements could cut that usage by 80 percent.
  • Only 60 percent of all new commercial building construction meets California energy efficiency standards. With a minimal two percent increase in construction costs, new buildings can be designed to use one-third to one-half less energy than they use today.
  • Only three percent of all buildings are newly constructed or renovated every year.
  • California has no energy efficiency standards for existing building stock, which could yield substantial savings in energy.
  • Energy efficient buildings retain higher real estate value, commanding higher rents (6-7 percent) and maintaining higher occupancy rates than less efficient buildings.
  • Simple energy efficiency improvements to existing buildings, such as insulating window films, yield three dollars in savings on average for every dollar invested.
  • In existing buildings, split incentives, elevated hurdle rates, upfront capital costs, and an information gap diminish large-scale adoption of energy retrofits.
  • In new commercial construction, a lack of incentives for developers and ineffective installation and inspection methods are barriers to energy efficiency efforts.
  • Much can be achieved through actions taken at the federal, state and local levels that raise efficiency standards, align incentives, and support the broad-based application of high-efficiency products and practices.


Next 10’s Water Trivia Quiz (“Contest”) is open to legal U.S. residents who reside in the State of California and are at least 18 years of age as of the Contest start date. Contest submission begins at 9:00 a.m. PST on Sept. 9, 2014, and ends at 5:00 p.m. PST on Sept. 16, 2014. Void where prohibited. To enter, go to and submit your email address. Prize will be awarded through a random drawing. Only one (1) entry per person.