Duke Energy seeks to expand energy-savings program for office buildings

Duke Energy wants to expand a program that has cut energy use in uptown Charlotte office buildings.

In a three-year test begun in 2011, the Smart Energy Now program exceeded its 5 percent energy savings goal. Net savings were 6.2 percent, Duke reported this week.

Duke Energy Carolinas asked the North Carolina Utilities Commission this week for permission to expand the program. If approved, it would be available to commercial buildings, in groups of three or more, across the utility’s service territory in the western half of the state.

Smart Energy Now focuses on behavioral changes in office workers and building managers, said Duke spokeswoman Paige Layne.

The program offers data on their building’s energy use and how it stacks up to comparable buildings. Then it encourages workday changes, such as turning off lights and idle computers, to reduce energy use.

The program is part of Envision Charlotte’s sustainability initiative, which aims to reduce energy, water use, air pollutants and waste in uptown’s commercial hub.

Envision Charlotte set a more ambitious 20 percent energy savings goal over five years. It’s expected to focus on operating changes and capital investments in those buildings. Results have not yet been reported.