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Commercial Building Energy Efficiency

The Idaho Governor’s Office of Energy and Mineral Resources (OEMR) works with regional and national programs to provide information about energy conservation and efficiency for new construction, as well as retrofit and remodel of existing buildings. OEMR promotes energy efficiency in commercial buildings through private-public partnerships created at the community level.

Some programs OEMR administers in support of commercial building energy efficiency include:

Communities that are renovating and revitalizing their schools, commercial buildings, colleges, universities and municipal buildings find that energy efficiency enhances economic development, promotes community livability and protects the environment. Some organizations, like universities, have targeted the most inefficient systems first, and then used the savings to fund additional capital improvements. Many community and commercial entities are not only renovating existing buildings, but many are addressing new construction as well.


The following resources provide useful information to improve the efficiency of community and commercial buildings:

  • Better Bricks, an initiative of the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, that helps organizations benefit from smart energy management
  • Energy Star Buildings and Plants, which contains information about improving the efficiency of the places we work, play and learn
  • The Integrated Design Laboratory of the University of Idaho, which focuses on designing high performance buildings in Idaho and Eastern Oregon
  • Energy Smart Schools is a web-based training on developing and implementing an energy management plan for your school


“Commissioning” refers to a project-specific, holistic, systematic process of constructing or retrofitting buildings to assure they perform in accordance with the design intent and owner’s operational needs. Today’s complex buildings comprise a variety of systems and must function in an integrated manner to meet owner and occupant needs. Commissioning offers a comprehensive approach to building construction or retrofit and is rapidly becoming the norm in the U.S.[1]


Commissioning benefits include higher employee productivity and lower rates for: absenteeism, tenant vacancy, construction delay and overall operating cost. Proper training, which is part of the Commissioning plan from the outset, ensures that the staff understand and properly use operational features and settings.


Commissioning existing buildings can be as productive as commissioning news ones. Referred to as retrocommissioning, this process can address existing problems in control, ventilation or heating and cooling that can cause major indoor air quality problems.

A retrocommissioning differs from an energy audit because it focuses on identifying low-cost changes, rather than technology-intensive capital improvement to enhance efficiency. If major energy-using systems need replacement, energy performance contracting may be a better choice.

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The Building Commissioning Association, which supports diverse and creative approaches to achieving high professional standards, provides additional information about building commissioning.