The recent raises in the cost of oil and electricity, together with an increased awareness of the general public on environmental issues and climate changes, have prompted governments, researchers and private and public institutions to look into ways to reduce our dependence on oil,as well as the emissions of green house gases. One of those ways is to increase the energy efficiency of buildings.
Commercial and residential buildings alone in the United States consume annually over 16 quadrillions BTU's (i.e., 16 x 10^15 BTU or 16 petaBTU) of end-user energy, of which electricity accounts for about 50% (approximately 2.5x10^12 kWh), and are responsible for almost 40% of the CO 2 emissions in the country. Given the important contribution of buildings to energy use and emissions, improving their energy efficiency will significantly reduce the country's energy use and green house gases emissions.
Electrical and civil engineers, architects, building owners, building managers and planners, should be involved in the selection and analysis of the various strategies available to improve the electrical efficiency of buildings under their care. Electricity consumption, and therefore costs, can be reduced by implementing strategies that can range from low-cost adjustments to systems and user behaviors, to extensive retrofits and equipment replacements. The selection depends not only on achieving maximum energy savings, but also on various factors such as architectural and human requirements, and financial considerations, to name a few.