America Saves

America Saves
Communities Saving Energy Together

Small commercial buildings continue to represent a massive and largely untapped opportunity for new energy savings and local climate change mitigation. An innovative demonstration project builds upon previously identified and quantified opportunities to determine essential ingredients of a successful, scalable small business energy efficiency program.

Energy Efficiency in Old Buildings

America Saves is one piece of the Preservation Green Lab’s body of work understand and overcome the challenges of that "hard-to-reach” market within the energy efficiency world.

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America Saves: Main Street Tips + Best Practices

Main Street, downtown, and community development programs across the country should consider this document to be a source of information and issue framing, to encourage increased small business energy efficiency. The assembled best practices were developed based on outcomes and learnings derived from the America Saves project and identify strong priority areas that positively impact local sustainability efforts.

America Saves: Case Studies

The America Saves case studies present detailed information about the process of organizing a targeted small business energy efficiency program in the following three communities. Each program’s structure and motivation were different, molded and informed by the community and the needs of the local businesses.

Key Findings

Small commercial buildings and businesses have unrealized potential for energy savings. The remote energy audit software used for this project identified an average of 20 percent potential energy savings in the pilot communities.  

Local leaders know their communities best. Working closely with trusted and well-connected local leaders, such as Main Street managers, provided reliable and direct access to small building and business owners, who may be wary of outside involvement and are often reluctant to take any time away from their day-to-day activities.  

Person-to-person communication supports small and local action. In-person exchanges proved to be the most effective tactic, resulting in low-cost and easy-to-implement actions.

Technology Plays a Supporting Role. Technology, when used creatively and appropriately, plays an important role to support and expedite energy efficiency solutions on Main Street and in older commercial corridors.

Existing programs for small commercial buildings are not fully leveraged or understood. Nearly all utility companies in the country offer customized energy efficiency programs for small businesses, but many owners are unaware of them.

Realizing the Energy Efficiency Potential of Small Buildings

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Key Recommendations

Accessibility: Utilities, cities, and small business organizations, alike, should work together to make it easy and simple for small building and business owners to take actions that support energy savings. 

Relationships: Utilities and energy efficiency programs should prioritize relationship development with well-connected local leaders (i.e. Main Street managers) to develop stronger trust-based networks with small business customers. 

Monitor: Increase the national frequency of small commercial energy benchmarking, using free programs such as Energy Star Portfolio Manager. 

Mitigate: Give smaller buildings a role to play in the fight against climate change by developing mitigation targets for energy reduction across a larger portfolio of building types and sizes.

Project Partners

Main Street America (National Main Street Center)
National Renewable Energy Lab
Capitol Hill Housing

 With Support From:

S. Department of Energy
The Kresge Foundation
The Boeing Company
The Bullitt Foundation
The Owsley Brown II Family Foundation
The David and Julia Uihlein Charitable Foundation