Buildings and building related activities represent one of the largest energy consuming sectors in the United States. In Illinois, from 1950 to 1990 a population increase of approximately 2.7 million translated into dramatic natural resource consumption increases. For example, Illinois residents currently require almost 30 million gallons of petroleum per day. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, annual energy expenditures in the State have now reached over $34 billion with commercial buildings consuming over $5.6 billion alone. This represents an increase of over $14 billion since 1980. Overall energy consumption in Illinois amounts to 3.96 quadrillion BTUs, nearly two-thirds of which can be attributed to buildings and building related consumers.

In Illinois the building and construction industry is also an important part of the economy, employing over 250,000 persons at an annual payroll that exceeds $11.2 billion dollars. Clearly, energy efficient facility initiatives that have even modest success in transforming Illinois markets by reducing consumption, increasing efficiencies, and reducing waste can have large impacts on the State's economy.

This paper presents the process and results of a smart energy design assistance initiative begun at the School of Architecture's Building Research Council at the University of Illinois. Begun to help designers and engineers implement renewable technologies and realize more efficient structures and projects, the program has also been successful in helping Illinois businesses remain competitive in the global marketplace by helping them reduce operational (energy) expenditures. Program results have shown the typical building can reduce its energy consumption by 30–40 percent through readily available “state of the shelf” efficiency measures.

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