3 Innovative Buildings Leading Energy Efficiency in the US

The United States ranks 8th in the world as an energy efficiency economy, according to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE). Germany takes the top prize. While the United States has made great strides in energy efficiency in the past few years, like many things in life, there’s always room for improvement.

In fact, despite ranking in the top 10, the US still has plenty of motivation to climb the energy efficiency rankings. Energy efficiency is the third largest resource in the US power sector.  It’s an interesting concept – the idea that reducing energy is actually not just savings, but a resource in generation.  If you look at it that way, 18% of the energy used in the US is offset – or generated – by energy efficiency measures. How does that savings manifest in real life?  Here are three of the most innovative buildings that have prioritized energy efficiency in both design and operations.


Berkeley, California: UC Berkeley Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation
Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation, Berkeley Architect - Leddy Maytum Stacy
Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation, Berkeley
Architect – Leddy Maytum Stacy

Jacobs Hall opened in 2015 as an interdisciplinary hub for engineering students. The building is home to flexible spaces for both instruction and student driven creation. Even better, it represents energy efficient design at it’s best. The building uses 90% less energy than the median college campus building.  Thanks to a smart passive solar design, more than 80% of the lighting and ventilation comes from free natural resources.  For example an in house solar photovoltaic array that powers 58% of the building’s energy needs. In addition, the university saves on hefty California water costs by conserving 50% of rainfall and using weather sensitive irrigation systems.

Beyond Jacobs Hall, U.C Berkeley as a whole holds a strong commitment towards sustainable buildings. More than 10% of campus is already LEED certified and all new buildings are required to outperform building codes by 30%.


New York City: One Bryant Park

Built and managed by the Durst Organization Inc., New York’s One Bryant Park is the first commercial high rise to receive LEED Platinum certification. Home to Bank of America, the building has more than 10,000 occupants every day. Despite it’s high profile and occupancy, operators are able to keep it as one of the greenest skyscrapers in the world with help from some unique strategies.

The property uses LED lighting throughout, collects and reuses heat waste, and employs highly efficient ventilation. With all this innovation, the building is outperforming expectations. Actual energy consumption is 12.7% less than what was predicted in the design phase.


Washington D.C.: The Millennium Building
1909 K ST
The Millennium Building, 1909 K ST, Washington DC

In the heart of the nation’s capital’s business district,The Tower Companies have wowed us with their Millennium Building. Tower Companies is also committed to reducing energy use by 20% by 2020, as a part of the >Better Building Challengereal-time energy monitoring, lighting and equipment upgrades, and installing DC’s first solar array on a large a commercial building.

The Millennium Building is LEED Gold certified and has earned Energy Star Certification every year. The Millennium Building also won the “Outstanding Building of the Year” for a commitment to sustainability and effective facilities management.

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