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A ‘BETTER’ Way Forward for Low-Cost, Accessible Retrofits

Taxpayers on track to save more than $800,000 annually in one case

Exterior view of a typical American school building

Berkeley Lab developed a tool called BETTER, the Building Efficiency Targeting Tool for Energy Retrofits, which has helped hundreds of organizations save millions in auditing and energy costs. (Credit: iStock)

Building operations account for a whopping 35% of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions. A free online tool developed by Berkeley Lab with support from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Building Technologies Office (BTO) the Building Efficiency Targeting Tool for Energy Retrofits (BETTER) is helping to bring that number down by virtually evaluating buildings for immediate no- and low-cost energy efficiency upgrades.

BETTER eliminates the need for costly in-person initial assessments, and its recommendations for simple energy efficiency improvements allow building owners to immediately cut energy use, cost, and greenhouse gas emissions by 5 to 10% while prioritizing facilities for more in-depth assessments based on their potential for deeper energy savings.

A total of 480 organizations have taken advantage of the tool since its initial release in 2020. A California state agency recently used it to audit 450 buildings, avoiding $3.3 million in in-person audit costs. The planned retrofits in nine of these buildings will save taxpayers an estimated $800,000 annually.

For Prince William County Public Schools in Virginia, where 40% of students are economically disadvantaged, small changes like reducing equipment schedules saved $77,000 in annual energy costs. In New England, Energy General LLC is leading a grassroots effort using BETTER to identify buildings in underserved neighborhoods that are most in need of renovation.

“BETTER offers a possibility of delivering efficiency retrofits in underserved markets faster and cheaper by orders of magnitude,” said Energy General LLC founder Tom Strumolo.

BETTER also supports the Biden Administration’s goal of a 100% clean energy economy that serves everyone and reduces the energy burdens in underserved and disadvantaged communities.

Read the full article at the Energy Technologies Area website.