Lightbulb testing at the California Lighting Technology Center, University of California at Davis. Photo credit: Kathreen Fontecha/CLTC, UC Davis
Buildings account for about 40 percent of energy use in the U.S., and provide a prime opportunity for gains in energy efficiency.
The Buildings Program supports policies to increase the efficiency of U.S. homes and businesses and to reduce carbon emissions and utility bills.

About the Program

We seek to increase the efficiency of new and existing buildings, as well as the appliances that go in them. We provide support and leadership to a growing network of advocates dedicated to making our daily lives more efficient and affordable.

Buildings Program grantees work in hundreds of cities, in every state in America, to help buildings use less energy. Improving the insulation of a home, for example, increases comfort, decreases the cost of heating and air conditioning, and reduces electricity use. To reduce energy use in new buildings, we support increasingly stringent building codes and promote their adoption by states and municipalities. More than half of U.S. states have adopted codes that offer significant savings for residential and commercial buildings. Retrofitting existing buildings presents a big opportunity to increase energy efficiency and reduce carbon. The Buildings Program strategy supports efforts to create programs that benchmark and publicize the energy consumed by individual buildings, as well as innovative finance mechanisms that encourage retrofits. We also support efforts to implement policies that increase utility investments in energy efficiency retrofits for affordable multifamily housing.

Appliance efficiency standards make our refrigerators, washing machines, and other appliances run just as effectively while saving us money, reducing carbon emissions, and saving energy. A recent study showed that the savings from all existing U.S. appliance standards—from the time each went into effect through 2035—will net consumers $1.1 trillion in cumulative savings and reduce annual carbon emissions in 2035 by 470 million metric tons, about equal to the emissions from 118 coal-fired power plants. To maximize these cost and energy savings for all Americans, we are pursuing the adoption of new and updated state and federal standards set to the maximum technical efficiency potential.


Building Retrofit and Industry Market (BRIM) Reports

The Buildings Program conducted a landscape study to understand how philanthropic efforts can scale the building retrofit industry and market. To discover what we learned at a 2012 expert roundtable, read the BRIM expert panel summary. For specific sectors, read: BRIM Commercial, BRIM Single Family, BRIM Multifamily, or BRIM Health Care. This report series is supported by Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Living Cities, Kresge Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, and Energy Foundation.