Civil Engineering ETDs

Publication Date



Energy consumption and conservation is an important consideration for commercial building owners. The commercial building sector consumes a great deal of energy. Energy reduction for commercial buildings can result in operations cost savings and reduction in environmentally harmful emissions. The decision process employed by owners to determine the energy conservation measures for an existing building retrofit requires a repeatable standard. This research investigates decision steps that are currently used. Then it determines what decision steps should be followed, and important aspects and considerations that will improve the process. The research used literature review and case study interviews to collect and analyze qualitative data. The literature review examined published articles, books, and manuals that focused on all aspects of energy conservation of existing buildings. The interviews were conducted with twelve owner organizations involved in building retrofits that include energy conservation measures (ECM). The research used a collective case study design approach where the organizations answered open ended questions. Additionally, the research made observations of the process in action and acquired documents that helped describe criteria for the specific step in the process. The research developed an integrated decision process for building retrofits that include ECMs. The integrated process is as follows: 1) Building Energy Data, 2) ECM Identification and analysis, 3) Assessment, 4) Design and Plan, and 6) Approval. The process must be conducted in an integrated manner. The building energy data stage must review the current energy consumption status and determine a set goal that the retrofit must achieve. The analysis must review the implementation of ECMs by using integrated design techniques. The assessment of the analyzed ECMs must review a set of alternatives to determine the most financial feasible option that meets the energy conservation goals. The design and plan step uses the information determined in the assessment to prepare the project for approval and implementation. The final step of approval entails finalizing funding and procuring construction operations. Organizations can improve their decision process by adopting the integrated process and also by establishing and following a set of goals. The goals must factor in financial and environmental indicators to appropriately prioritize and plan projects. Organizations should have strategies for dealing with issues such as upfront cost, lack of knowledge, low returns on investment, time to implement, and non-energy requirements. The research synthesized literature review and organizational practices to establish a best practice approach for decision makers. It also evaluates how organization can establish ECM goals and overcome common barriers.


Commercial buildings--Energy conservation--Decision making, Commercial buildings--Maintenance and repair--Decision making.

Document Type




Degree Name

Civil Engineering

Level of Degree


Department Name

Civil Engineering

First Advisor

Bogus-Halter, Susan

First Committee Member (Chair)

Rounds, Jerald L.

Second Committee Member

Migliaccio, Giovanni C.