Good news on the energy efficiency front: even while the square footage of commercial buildings is on the rise, energy consumption is growing at a much slower rate.

Those are part of the findings from the 2012 Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey released earlier this year. The research revealed that floorspace has increased 22 percent since 2003, and the total number of buildings has increased 14 percent, but energy use has increased just seven percent.

The average total energy used per square foot of commercial buildings showed a statistically significant decrease, from 91.0 thousand Btu per square foot to 80.0 thousand Btu per square foot.

What’s behind the slowdown in energy consumption? Authors of the study point to new building construction standards for energy efficiency, changes in building usage and construction in more temperate areas. Improvements in the energy efficiency of equipment are also lowering energy use.

Energy consumption for lighting and heating both dropped by 11 percent, according to the study.

Electricity usage steady despite increased use of electricity dependent equipment, while the natural gas consumption decreased due to improved efficiency standards and warmer winters.

The total amount of energy used for lighting has decreased 46 percent due to the increasing use of compact fluorescent and LED bulbs as replacements for lower efficiency incandescent bulbs. The trend is expected to continue. LEDs currently account for 15 percent of U.S. lightbulb sales, and are expected to account for half of all sales by 2020.

The Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey is a national sample survey conducted by the U.S. Energy Information Adminstration that collects information on the stock of U.S. commercial buildings, including their energy-related building characteristics and energy usage. The first CBECS was conducted in 1979; the latest was fielded starting in April 2013 to provide data for calendar year 2012.