Commercial buildings in the United States account for 19% of energy consumption and 18% of greenhouse gas emissions. Each year, 10 million square feet of space is either built (50%) or renovated (50%).
Solving global warming, in other words, will involve reining in energy consumption at the nation's strip malls, offices, grocery stores and other commercial buildings.
The companies most likely to find innovative ways to reduce energy consumption will split $15 million from the Department of Energy, as it boosts its Net-Zero Commercial Building Initiative.
Actually, the name is overblown. The goal isn't "net-zero" -- a building that generates as much energy as it consumes. The goal is to produce new buildings that are 50% more efficient than the standards set by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, and renovated buildings that are 30% more efficient than the society's benchmarks.
Keep an eye on these companies. Awardees get access to the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and National Renewable Energy Laboratory, where research on these topics is underway. The government, anyway, thinks they have the best ideas for reaching those goals:
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