Open Access
Safari, Mahsa
Graduate Program:
Architectural Engineering
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
April 15, 2019
Committee Members:
  • David R Riley II, Dissertation Advisor
  • David R Riley II, Committee Chair
  • Somayeh Asadi, Committee Member
  • James Freihaut, Committee Member
  • Rachel Alice Brennan, Outside Member
  • Energy Retrofit; Project Delivery Method; Regenerative Design
The retrofit of buildings to improve energy performance represents a vast opportunity in the construction market with the potential to create jobs, reduce energy demand, and achieve environmental benefits. Multiple challenges need to be overcome to unleash this potential and realize the benefits of investments in improving building energy performance. While large facilities often have easily predictable energy saving potential at scales that are attractive to the financial industry, they are often pursued in a manner that achieves only “low hanging fruit” for short term economic return. As a consequence, they often fall short of their potential to be pursued as a long term solution. Small sized buildings face even more challenges often related to the lack of the owners’ abilities to manage and finance energy efficiency improvements. The goal of this research is to develop a framework that supports the continuous improvement of processes involved in developing energy retrofit projects for small sized commercial buildings. The concept of regenerative thinking guided the investigation of value creation and exchange in networks of the stakeholders of a given energy retrofit. Characterization of investment risk in the value adding processes enables more informed investment decisions required to bring a retrofit project to optimal fruition. This enables the identification of high-risk investments during the process that can be elevated as key decisions to prove the investment risks are proportionate to the value being offered. The reduction of project development costs and risks can then contribute to a market-driven expansion of these project and the resulting economic, ecological, and social system effects. In addition, process improvement interventions can be designed and evaluated by their potential and actual effects in lowering the capital investment required to pursue retrofit projects. Key elements of this framework are developed through case studies, focus groups, and interviews. In conclusion, research results examining the value of the framework in improving the business development process for small commercial building energy retrofit projects are presented.