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Honest Buildings Shares Solutions On How To Build A Better Building

Illustration by Roderick Mills

It's not that developers refuse to be eco-friendly. "A lot of owners just don't know where to start," says Riggs Kubiak. He runs HonestBuildings.com, a network that tracks sustainable building projects across America. We asked him to share some of his favorite upgrades.

Instant Light Dimming

Energy savings: 50% to 75%
Payback time: 18 to 24 months

Lighting accounts for up to 35% of a commercial building's energy costs, but much of it is lighting empty rooms. Enlighted Inc. installs a device in light fixtures that brighten and dim automatically, reacting to body movement and other sources of light everywhere in an office.

Remote Control Thermostats

Energy savings: 15% to 20%
Payback time: 18 to 24 months

Devices by Incenergy are connected to rooftop heating and cooling units. They communicate directly with a smartphone app, which managers can use to adjust temperatures from anywhere.

Energy From Wasted Heat

Energy savings: 20%
Payback time: 3 to 4 years

Buildings let off a lot of heat. But with a mini power plant by Lime Energy, that heat is used to perform functions such as heating, providing hot water, and generating steam for manufacturing—thereby saving electricity.

A version of this article appeared in the February 2013 issue of Fast Company magazine.