The United States Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced the creation of a new Commercial Real Estate Energy Alliance (the CREEA). Participation in the CREEA could provide an unusual opportunity for commercial real estate owners, investors and service providers. While gaining access to technologies under development by the DOE, participants will also be encouraged to submit feedback for the DOE’s future energy efficiency standards.

What is the CREEA?

The CREEA is an outgrowth of the DOE’s “Net-Zero Energy Commercial Building Initiative.” Through the Initiative, the DOE has set a goal of developing commercial buildings by 2025 that will create as much energy as they consume. The Initiative is coordinated by the DOE’s Building Technology Program within its Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. The DOE has made a major commitment to the Building Technology Program: $140 million has been budgeted for the current fiscal year, and President Obama has requested a 69.8 percent increase for fiscal year 2010, to more than $237 million.

The CREEA is one of a number of public/private alliances that the DOE has created in connection with the Net-Zero Energy Commercial Building Initiative. The alliances connect the DOE and its national laboratories with market participants. The DOE sees the alliances as forums that will allow participants to, among other things:

  • Discuss unique energy challenges facing particular building types and industries;
  • Share nonproprietary information that can accelerate the adoption of technologies; and
  • Define potential areas of high-impact research and development.

The CREEA will follow in the footsteps of a similar alliance launched in 2008, the Retailer Energy Alliance. Since its launch, the Retailer Energy Alliance has been very active, holding a series of summits with suppliers of energy-efficient technologies and developing a series of subcommittees that focus on issues such as lighting, HVAC systems, refrigeration and other issues facing retailers who are hoping to lower energy costs.

Similar activities can be expected from the CREEA, with the focus being broadened to include office, industrial and other types of commercial properties. The DOE has assembled a broad-based steering committee for the CREEA, including representatives from industry groups such as NAIOP and ICSC, as well as companies such as CB Richard Ellis, Grubb & Ellis, Hilton Hotels and The Walt Disney Company.

How to Join the CREEA

Participants in the CREEA will be asked to:

  • Participate in two CREEA meetings per year, as well as one subcommittee call per month;.
  • Help establish commercial real estate building performance benchmarks by sharing nonproprietary energy, equipment and building data;
  • Share best energy-efficiency practices in building design, operation and maintenance;
  • Offer input on future building systems purchases, giving manufacturers an incentive to develop higher-efficiency equipment based on potential market scale;
  • Participate in scheduled equipment tests to determine real-world performance;
  • Explore recommended variation in system designs based on geographical location.

To join the CREEA, the DOE encourages interested parties to contact Dru Crawley of the Building Technologies Program at Drury.Crawley@ee.doe.gov. Those interested can also visit the DOE’s webpage at buildings.energy.gov/real_estate.