DOE has launched the Commercial Real Estate Energy Alliance (CREEA), a partnership of commercial real estate owners and operators that have volunteered to work with DOE to drastically reduce the commercial real estate sector's energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Commercial buildings currently account for 18% of the nation's energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions. CREEA will provide a link between commercial building owners and operators and DOE's research and technologies and will act as national forum to share best practices and practical experiences in energy efficiency. CREEA steering committee members include leading real estate and building engineering organizations; the U.S. General Services Administration, which manages federal buildings; U.S. and global leaders in real estate services, such as CB Richard Ellis, Cushman & Wakefield Inc., Grubb & Ellis Company, Jones Lang LaSalle, Transwestern, and USAA Real Estate Company; and top hotel, casino, and resort owners, such as Hilton Hotels Corporation, MGM Mirage, The Walt Disney Company, and Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, LLC.
CREEA is the second energy alliance launched by DOE in the commercial buildings sector. The Retailer Energy Alliance, launched in 2008, provides similar resources and services for retail businesses, including Walmart, Target, and Macy's. Both alliances are part of DOE's Net-Zero Energy Commercial Building Initiative, which aims to achieve market-ready, net-zero-energy commercial buildings by 2025. The initiative is supported by the National Laboratory Collaborative on Building Technologies, under which five of DOE's national laboratories have been working toward the net-zero energy goal, and the Commercial Building National Accounts, which includes DOE-selected companies and organizations that conduct cost-shared research, development, and deployment for new building technologies. See the DOE press release and the CREEA Web page on DOE's Building Technologies Program Web site.
DOE has taken a number of steps to encourage energy efficiency in the design of new buildings. In 2001, DOE released the first version of EnergyPlus, an energy modeling tool that has been updated at least twice each year. And last year, DOE released OpenStudio, a plug-in for the Google SketchUp 3-D drawing program that allows SketchUp to work seamlessly with the EnergyPlus program. The most recent versions of both EnergyPlus and OpenStudio were released on April 13, and both are available on the EnergyPlus page of DOE's Building Technologies Program Web site. That site also features a selection of benchmark models for 16 types of building in 16 locations to help designers understand the energy use of similar new buildings. The models were developed last year with the help of three of DOE's national laboratories.