Achieving Large-scale Energy Reduction in Commercial Buildings Using Closed Loop Energy Analysis (CLEAN)

Project Background

In Europe, commercial, public and residential buildings account for almost 40% of all energy used.  In the US in 2006, buildings accounted for 72% of all electricity consumption, commercial buildings representing almost half of that figure.  A significant reduction of these figures represents an important goal in controlling levels of CO₂ emissions.

The modern commercial building with its unfettered layout, efficient use of space and controlled environment can come with a high price.  The level of energy use is estimated to be three times higher in modern sealed buildings when compared to naturally ventilated buildings.  With the rising cost of energy, the building owners and tenants are more focussed on the operational cost of the building than ever before.

Based on research and practical experience in Europe, the inclusion of the FM community in energy reduction programmes remains at a low level.  The methods currently available such as building simulation, designed to make the process of building change management and measurement easier, have not had widespread uptake, particularly within the FM community.  However, these researchers have also indicated that the FM community are important to the energy reduction arena and thus the further education of this community must be seen as a key enabler for improved energy performance of facilities in general.

A new method, known as Closed Loop Energy Analysis has been developed and rolled out to almost 50 buildings in Western Europe and the Middle East.  Achieved energy reduction has been between 18 and 54% when compared to agreed benchmarks.  The method has been specifically designed to include the FM community, which is considered vital to the process if large scale energy reduction is to become a reality.  As an illustrative example, in Japan during 1979, after the second oil crisis, legislation was enacted by central Government to force large industrial users of energy to appoint an energy manager, with specific, statute bound responsibilities.  This industrial sector has maintained the level of overall energy use while growing its output by 230% from 1973 to 2007.  In contrast, the commercial building sector uses a voluntary code of practice and between 1990 and 2007; the sector has witnessed a 48% increase in CO₂ emissions.  It has been argued that this difference can, in part, be accounted for by the lack of mandated energy managers in the commercial sector.

In commercial buildings, the inclusion of the FM personnel in any energy reduction programme can be shown to be essential, since it is they who operate and maintain the building’s plant.  FM is normally involved in all aspects of building operations.  Given the industry links already established, CIFE is ideally placed to expand upon the existing research in this area of energy use reduction in order to develop a pioneering taught course and follow-up project engagements.  This will provide the FM staff with the necessary skills to become improved energy managers.

Problem Overview

In large and medium sized commercial buildings, both energy reduction and the analysis work to make it possible can be very complex.  In order to deliver occupant comfort through the installed plant, many different control systems are often in play and not only are the systems complex in their own right, but their interaction can often cause detailed analysis to be beyond the reach of many engineers.  A method needs to be developed to allow interested technical staff to perform this complex task of energy use reduction while being guided through each stage.  That guidance can be as long as one year.  

The following are the motivations and reasons behind this proposal – 

Possibility of substantial reductions in energy use and corresponding CO₂ emissions in medium and large commercial buildings.  In practical experiences in Western Europe and Middle East, few commercial buildings appear to operate at good levels of efficiency.

There are no global energy reduction methods applicable to all buildings.  The uniqueness of these buildings militates against such a method.  Current methods to validate or forecast energy use and savings are perceived as complex and cumbersome by FM staff.

CIFE will build on existing research to deliver a new simple and automated method to help solve these problems.  It is important that this method is within easy reach of FM staff.

Workshop Details

In answering the issues outlines in the previous sections, we have developed a workshop, held on September 16-17 at CIFE, Stanford Unviersity. Details of the workshop are available at this page


Industry Partners and Case Studies

DPR Construction, Inc.

DPR Construction, Inc.

DPR Headquarters, Redwood City, CA


The David & Lucile Packard Foundation

Packard Foundation

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Los Altos, CA


Pat Shiel –

Amir Kavousian --

Last modified Thu, 28 May, 2015 at 10:21