The Commercial Building Initiative, a new public/private consortium dedicated to achieving zero net energy commercial buildings by 2030, drew a standing-room-only crowd for its informational meeting at the New York Hilton on January 22. The CBI vision for supporting and driving industry technology, policies, and practices toward this goal was laid out in presentations by Steve Selkowitz (Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories, LBL), Paul Ehrlich (founder of Building Intelligence Group andESadvisor/author), and Bruce Hunn (ASHRAE director of research and technology).

Selkowitz acknowledged the challenge of CBI’s ambitious target but cited the group’s dedication to emphasizing the opportunities in such work, citing the Henry Ford quote, “If I had asked people what they want, they would’ve said faster horses.”

The group, which has received some funding from the 2007 Energy Bill, will work on taking the pulse of the industry, creating a sustainable practices argument driven by the business case for such behavior, making performance visible and understandable, and focusing on the facility owner and operator perspective in motivating the industry.

Selkowitz also pointed to a gradual pathway to guide commercial owners, starting with basic tuneups (saving 10% efficiency), the ASHRAE 30% series of guides, then on to more significant goals such as 50% energy reduction and on toward more renewable components and full net zero energy status.

The CBI was technically founded in 2006 as a joint exploration involving the Alliance to Save Energy, ASHRAE, LBL, the USGBC, and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. The group welcomes owners, financiers, manufacturers, regulators, engineers, and other industry stakeholders to participate and invites all to learn more at