Small buildings, big impacts: The role of small commercial building energy efficiency case studies in 2030 Districts

Elizabeth Barnes, Kristen Parrish

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Small commercial buildings, or those comprising less than 50,000 square feet of floor area, make up 90% of the total number of buildings in the United States. Though these buildings currently account for less than 50% of total energy consumption in the U.S., this statistic is expected to change as larger commercial buildings become more efficient and thus account for a smaller percentage of commercial building energy consumption. This paper describes the efforts of a multi-organization collaboration and their demonstration partners in developing a library of case studies that promote and facilitate energy efficiency in the small commercial buildings market as well as a case study template that standardized the library. Case studies address five identified barriers to energy efficiency in the small commercial market, specifically, lack of: (1) access to centralized, comprehensive, and consistent information about how to achieve energy targets, (2) reasonably achievable energy targets, (3) access to tools that measure buildings’ progress toward targets, (4) financial incentives that make the reduction effort attractive, and (5) effective models of how disparate stakeholders can collaborate in commercial centers to reach targets. The case study library can be organized by location, building type, project size, energy savings, end uses impacted, and retrofit measures. This paper discusses the process of developing the library and case study template. Finally, the paper presents next steps for the library and explores energy savings potential its widespread use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)210-221
Number of pages12
JournalSustainable Cities and Society
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016


  • Building energy efficiency
  • Case study
  • Small commercial buildings

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Transportation


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