Building Decarbonization through Energy Efficiency

January 11th, 2023


Building decarbonization is central to global efforts to combat climate change and accelerate the transition to clean, sustainable energy. The built environment generates approximately 40% of annual global CO2 emissions—27% from building operations (fuel consumption) and 13% from building construction and the production of building materials like concrete and steel. Metrus Energy helps organizations seeking to reduce the carbon footprint of their buildings by removing the financial barriers to installing energy-efficient equipment.

What is building decarbonization?

Building decarbonization is the reduction of the amount of carbon that a building emits throughout its lifecycle. This includes the operational carbon directly generated from the energy and water required to operate and occupy the building, and the embodied carbon produced in order to design, build, and maintain a building.

Reducing these emissions, which are also known as greenhouse gases (GHG), represents a large challenge—and opportunity—to achieving the targets set by the Paris Agreement, as well as the sustainability goals defined by individual corporations and other organizations.

Why is building decarbonization important?

By some estimates, approximately 2/3 of the global building stock in 2040 will be buildings that exist today. By 2060, the global building stock is expected to double due to urbanization, population growth, and other economic trends. These projections underscore the importance and urgency of addressing the carbon-intensive aspects of building design, construction, operation, and maintenance.

How to decarbonize existing buildings

An effective way to achieve rapid, affordable building decarbonization is through a building retrofit. Retrofitting an existing building with energy-efficient equipment and technologies avoids the environmental impacts of new construction, which requires carbon-intensive material production. (According to the International Energy Agency, production of concrete and steel alone accounts for over 13% of annual global CO2 emissions.)

To reduce operational carbon emissions, Metrus Energy has worked with many organizations, including colleges, universities, and healthcare facilities, to unlock the potential savings in their existing building infrastructure to implement a range of improvements. These include:

  • Lighting upgrades: Replacing traditional lighting fixtures with energy-efficient LED lighting can significantly reduce energy consumption and maintenance costs.
  • HVAC system improvements: Upgrading heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems with high-efficiency equipment helps improve energy performance and occupant comfort.
  • Building envelope enhancements: Improving insulation, sealing air leaks, and upgrading windows and doors enhance the building’s thermal efficiency, reducing heating and cooling energy requirements.
  • Smart building controls: Implementing advanced controls and automation systems enables efficient management of energy use. This includes occupancy sensors, programmable thermostats, and building energy management systems.

The benefits of building decarbonization

Reducing a building’s operational carbon emissions through a building retrofit produces a ripple effect of benefits:

  • Cost savings: Energy-efficient upgrades help reduce energy consumption, resulting in lower utility bills and operational costs. By optimizing energy performance, businesses can achieve long-term financial savings. Metrus’ Energy as a Service model further enhances the financial benefits by avoiding any upfront costs or capital expense.
  • Enhanced comfort and productivity: Energy-efficient improvements, such as efficient HVAC systems and better insulation, create a more comfortable indoor environment. This enhances occupant satisfaction, which can be a positive factor when marketing the organization’s facilities.
  • Regulatory compliance and reputation: Building decarbonization aligns with evolving environmental regulations and demonstrates a commitment to sustainability. It enhances an organization’s reputation, strengthens stakeholder relationships, and attracts environmentally conscious customers.
  • Reduced carbon emissions: Not to bury the lead, but building decarbonization through a building retrofit is an effective way to reduce the GHG emissions that are driving climate change.

Energy efficiency as a building decarbonization strategy

Energy efficiency is a method of building decarbonization that is proven, cost-effective, and ready to deploy. Since 2009, Metrus Energy has worked with energy-intensive businesses across a range of verticals to remove the financial hurdles to improving their building efficiency. We achieve this through Energy as a Service, a pay-for-performance model that enables customers to benefit from the energy solution without having to own the equipment. Metrus pays for all upfront and ongoing project costs, enabling upgrades to aging infrastructure, improving equipment resiliency, and lowering carbon emissions without the capital expense.

Metrus offers tailored solutions that address your specific building needs and goals. Our team will assess your building’s energy usage, identify areas for improvement, and develop a customized plan to optimize energy efficiency. This process begins with our free Remote Energy Audit. Contact us today to get started on your building decarbonization journey. Together we can make a significant impact in reducing carbon emissions and building a greener future.