Solutions Journal: Spring 2011—RMI Convenes Innovation Summits

As part of its RetroFit Initiative, RMI convened two summits this spring: one to advance education, tools, and best practices for whole building energy analysis and one to encourage financing for energy-efficient design. The summits brought together diverse partners and stakeholders with the goal of capitalizing on opportunities in each industry to support the widespread adoption of energy efficient building design and operation.

The RetroFit Initiative aims to encourage the retrofit of the U.S. commercial building stock to use, on average, at least 50 percent less energy by 2050 via the wide adoption of deep energy retrofits that save far more energy, even more profitably, than today’s normal practices. (For more information on retrofits, visit RetroFit Depot, at

Capital Markets Workshop

RMI and the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) jointly hosted the workshop “Energy Efficiency and Capital Markets” to explore ways to increase the availability of financing for deep energy retrofits (greater than 50 percent energy savings) for small to mid-sized office or retail buildings. Held in Boulder April 7–8, the workshop focused on actions RMI and NEEA could undertake to expand the market.

Limited financing options and a shortage of capital are a significant roadblock to energy retrofits in small- to mid-size commercial buildings under 50,000 square feet—which comprises 90 percent of all commercial buildings and more than half of the total floorspace. This often forces owners to rely on personal credit to finance the deal, according to RMI Analyst Roy Torbert, who helped organize the summit.

Participants in the discussion on facilitating energy-efficiency financing included banks, energy service companies, commercial real estate firms and utility-related organizations. The group brainstormed opportunities for RMI and NEEA to educate financial professionals, value energy efficiency more accurately, and develop new business models tailored to smaller buildings.

Energy Modeling Summit

On March 10-11 in Boulder, RMI convened industry stakeholders to share their vision of the future of energy modeling and how it can drive widespread solutions for low-energy buildings with reduced electric demand.  RMI’s partners for the Building Energy Modeling Innovation Summit were ASHRAE, IBPSA-USA, USGBC and IMT. *

Key participants in the summit included software developers of simulation tools and building information modeling products, expert building energy modeling practitioners and educators, key representatives from the Department of Energy and national labs, and decision makers from professional and industry standards organizations.

In addition to hosting the summit, RMI has developed short-term tools and templates that will save time and increase the quality of energy modeling. And, in partnership with ASHRAE and IBPSA-USA, RMI has developed training and education materials, which the organizations have presented in a number of workshops across the country.

For extensive coverage of the summit and the issues facing the energy modeling community—including live blogs from the event, photos, short videos, and comments from participants—please see the BEM Summit page on

*ASHRAE: American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers
IBPSA-USA: International Building Performance Simulation Association
USGBC: United States Green Building Council
IMT: Institute for Market Transformation