The commercial sector includes 3.6 billion square feet of floor area (in 2022) and 18 different building type categories. The table below shows the breakdown of square feet by building type. The office, retail, and food sales are further divided into categories based on building size. In addition to the existing building stock, over 1,141 million square feet of new floor space are expected to be added by 2041 based on the Council’s medium forecast. Conservation potential is identified in both existing and new stock. Existing stock covers all buildings and equipment estimated to be in place in 2021.

Commercial Building Types

Primary Activity2021 Plan Building TypeName Used in ModelsGross Floor Area in Square FeetRegional Floor Area (million sf)
OfficeLarge OfficeLarge Off>50,000397
OfficeMedium OfficeMedium Off5,000 to 50,000203
OfficeSmall OfficeSmall Off<5,000188
RetailExtra Large RetailXlarge Ret>100,000142
RetailLarge RetailLarge Ret50,000 - 100,000214
RetailMedium RetailMedium Ret5000 - 50,000101
RetailSmall RetailSmall Ret<5000112
SchoolSchool K-12School K-12Any273
Retail Food SalesSupermarketSupermarket> 500052
Retail Food SalesMini MartMini Mart< 500024
Health CareHospitalHospitalAny114
Health CareResidential CareResidential CareAny140

Across the 18 building types are more than 720 measure permutations. The 2021 Power Plan estimates nearly 1,700 average megawatts of energy efficiency potential in the commercial sector, about 1,480 of which costs less than $100 per megawatt-hour. The total potential represents approximately 20 percent of the projected 2041 commercial sector load. The commercial energy efficiency potential translates to around 2375 megawatts of winter peak impact and 2850 megawatts of summer peak impact.

For the commercial sector, most of the conservation measures are derived based on savings per square foot of floor area by a specific building type. In a few other cases, a commercial conservation measure may be based on population (savings per person) or a direct estimate of unit count, such as the number of streetlights.

The commercial energy efficiency potential is dominated by HVAC (fans, high efficiency heat recovery ventilator, rooftop unit controller, energy management, variable refrigerant flow systems, ductless heat pumps, windows, glazing) and lighting (LED lighting and controls for interior, exterior, and street lighting). In addition, there is potential in electronics (embedded data centers, smart plug power strips, computers and monitors), refrigeration, and a few other end-uses (compressed-air, food preparation, water heating, etc.) as illustrated in the figure below. This figure is the supply curve that is built up from individual measures and stacked into available potential (in average megawatts) by price bin (NRC net levelized cost, dollars per megawatt-hour). The commercial sector supply curve shows a steadily increasing supply up to about 600 average megawatts through the less than $30 per megawatt-hour bin and then has a significant increase to over 1000 average megawatts to the less than $40 per megawatt-hour bin. From there the energy efficiency potential has a more gradual increase with increasing cost up to the total achievable technical potential of 1654 average megawatts.

Commercial Energy Efficiency Supply Curve