Beyond Widgets: Validated Systems Energy Savings and Utility Custom Incentive Program Systems Trends

Publication Type

Conference Paper

Date Published



Energy efficiency upgrades to buildings to date through avenues such as utility incentive programs have been largely limited to component-based products (e.g., lamps, RTUs). While some utilities do provide ‘custom’ incentive programs with whole building and system level technical assistance, these programs require deeper levels of analysis, resulting in higher program costs. This results in custom programs being restricted to utilities with greater resources, and are typically applied mainly to large or energy-intensive facilities, leaving much of the market without cost effective access and incentives for these solutions. In addition, with increasingly stringent energy codes, cost effective component-based solutions that achieve significant savings are dwindling. Integrated building systems (e.g., integrated façade, HVAC and/or lighting solutions) can deliver higher savings (Regnier et al. 2017) that translate into large sector-wide savings if deployed at the scale of these programs. However, systems application poses a number of challenges – energy savings assessments are inherently more complex and are not easily suited to the deemed measure model, and implementation of systems can be more disruptive. This paper presents the outcomes of a project to develop validated utility incentive program packages for three specific integrated building systems, in collaboration with ComEd, a consortium of California Public Owned Utilities (CA POUs) (Northern California Power Agency(NCPA) and the Southern California Public Power Authority(SCPPA)), and Xcel Energy (CO, MN). Previous work described the potential for energy savings of these systems at the individual and market level, early test findings for the task-ambient lighting system, and described the work products to develop utility incentive programs (Regnier et al. 2016). This paper presents validated end use energy savings of all three systems showing energy savings of ~20% for automated shading combined with daylight dimming (does not include light fixture retrofit savings); 30-46% for task-ambient lighting systems combined with plug load occupancy controls, depending on technology package and office building size (no daylight dimming impacts); and ~94% in the south-façade daylit zone for workstation specific lighting systems with daylight dimming (including lighting retrofit and task tuning). Using a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) reference building model (DOE 2018), this translates to whole building savings of 2-5% (large-medium commercial), 12-23% (large-small commercial), and 13-15% (medium-large commercial) for these systems respectively. Early findings from the utilities in deploying these systems through their incentive programs indicate that deployment methods such as direct install programs might be best suited for these integrated systems. Further, early findings from a scoping study across custom utility programs and federal retrofit programs indicate that component level retrofits are still prevalent even in these programs, pointing towards an opportunity for deeper energy savings deployment. High performance retrofit case studies demonstrate that deeper energy savings is possible through integrated approaches. Market stakeholder interviews indicate however that there is generally a low level of awareness of the potential for energy savings of these three integrated systems.

Conference Name

2018 Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings

Year of Publication


Refereed Designation