This section focuses on Florida building topics and saving energy. Two renewable energy sources that can save energy in buildings are discussed separately: solar energy and geothermal heat pumps.
More basic information about building energy efficiency is also available.
The building envelope includes everything that separates the interior of a building from the outdoor environment, including the windows, walls, foundation, basement slab, ceiling, roof, and insulation.
Space Heating and Cooling
Energy-efficient heating and cooling of buildings are aided through the use of automated controls, ventilation, improved duct systems, and advanced technologies.
Energy-efficient water heating combined with water-efficient appliances and fixtures will save water, energy, and money.
Compact fluorescent light bulbs and other efficient lighting technologies save energy and money.
Energy-efficient options are available for clothes washers and dryers, refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, ovens, and stoves.
Office Equipment and Building Electrical Equipment
Most office equipment wastes energy as it sits idle; equipment with built-in power management features can greatly reduce energy use by switching to low-energy mode when not in use. Energy-efficient motors and transformers are also available.
Specific Types of Buildings
Special programs exist to encourage energy efficiency in schools and federal buildings. Energy efficiency also helps those who live in affordable housing maintain affordable energy bills.
Building Energy Codes
Building energy codes are generally set on the state level. Model codes have been established at the national level, but these are usually modified to meet specific needs within each state.
Energy efficiency standards for appliances are promulgated by the U.S. Department of Energy.
A variety of tools and technologies are used to evaluate the energy efficiency of buildings.
Special financing is available that recognizes the savings due to energy efficiency, which allow the building owner to assume greater monthly mortgage payments. Some energy-efficient financing is based on the Home Energy Rating System (HERS).
Whole-building design takes an integrative approach to building design so that all elements of the building help achieve an optimal energy performance. The building has to interact effectively with the outdoor environment — a concept known as climate-responsive architecture. A variety of design tools are available.
Commissioning, Operation, and Maintenance
Designing a building is only half the battle; it must be put into commission correctly, then operated and maintained correctly. Measurement and verification of building performance is an important aspect of commissioning new buildings.
Landscaping for Energy Efficiency
Landscaping can improve a building's energy performance. Trees and bushes can provide shading or block a prevailing wind, as can earth berms.
Urban Heat Islands
In urban areas, building energy efficiency is hampered by higher urban temperatures, an effect known as urban heat islands.