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Energy Benchmarking & Disclosure

How benchmarking is helping municipalities improve the transparency of building energy and conserve energy

by Maureen K. Roskoski, SFP, LEED AP O+M, Corporate Sustainability Officer, Facility Engineering Associates — Energy management begins with understanding your energy consumption. Tracking energy use and benchmarking consumption is a key first step in understanding your consumption and working towards decreasing that consumption. The old saying goes… You can’t manage what you can’t measure. Some localities are taking this to a higher level and are enacting legislation around energy benchmarking and disclosure. For most localities, the goal is to improve transparency of building energy use and encourage energy conservation through market drivers.

The District of Columbia was one of the first to enact an energy benchmarking legislation, but has been surpassed by others as they worked on implementation. The Green Building Act (GBA) requires building owners to evaluate their energy and water consumption on an annual basis utilizing the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager benchmarking tool. The GBA was amended in 2008 via the Clean and Affordable Energy Act of 2008, which called for improvements in the way energy is managed and consumed across the District. It also provided further guidance on requirements, including buildings impacted by the Act and reporting. Of great importance to facility managers throughout the District was the requirement to benchmark facility energy consumption utilizing Portfolio Manager. For privately owned buildings, the benchmarking requirements and submission deadlines are based on square footage shown in Table 1.

The regulation establishes an official deadline for 2010 and 2011 data of March 19, 2013 (60 days from the final publication); however, to reduce confusion, DDOE is allowing buidling owners to submit through April 1 without penalty.

Facilities will have to submit their utility information on an annual basis to the District Department of the Environment (DDOE). The submitted report is expected to become public knowledge starting the 2nd year of submission through the program. Reporting is via selecting the “District Report Template” in Portfolio Manager and submitting the report to DDOE. The only data that will be published includes the address of the building, the year built, the ENERGY STAR rating (if able to be rated), utility consumption (electricity, gas, water), CO2 emissions, use of building, and the gross square foot area. Failure to meet deadlines or submission of inaccurate data will be subject to fines of up to $100/day. Regardless of whether or not you can receive an ENERGY STAR rating, if your building is greater than 50,000 square feet, you are required to report your energy consumption.

In addition to the District of Columbia, another east coast city enacting this legislation is Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. On May 17, 2012, Philadelphia’s City Council passed legislation known as Bill #120428. This legislation requires all buildings in Philadelphia that are 50,000 square feet or larger to be benchmarked and disclose energy and water consumption data. The law will take effect in 2013, and calendar year 2012 data must be submitted no later than October 31, 2013. Buildings that fail to disclose their energy and water data are subject to a $300 fine the first 30 days their data is late, and a $100/day penalty following the initial 30 days. To learn more about Philadelphia’s ruling, go to http://www.eebhub.org/policy-and-finance/benchmarking-and-disclosure/.

The second part of these legislations is disclosure. To achieve the goal of greater transparency of building energy use, this information has to be made public. Most localities are looking at publishing the information on a website or in a report available to the public. New York released their first energy benchmarking report on private buildings in the fall of 2012, titled NEW YORK CITY LOCAL LAW 84 BENCHMARKINGREPORT, AUGUST 2012, which can be found at http://www.nyc.gov/html/gbee/downloads/pdf/nyc_ll84_benchmarking_report_2012.pdf. One of the findings in the report was If all comparatively inefficient large buildings were brought up to the median energy use intensity (EUI) in their category, New York City consumers could reduce energy consumption in large buildings by roughly 18% and GHG emissions by 20%.

The District of Columbia expects to publicize the benchmarking results online in the second year of the program. In addition to transparency, the District of Columbia hopes to increase energy awareness and help the District meet its own sustainability goals. “Energy benchmarking is an important step toward realizing the Mayor’s vision to make the District the healthiest, greenest and most livable city in the United States,” said Keith A. Anderson, Acting Director of the District Department of the Environment (DDOE). “By measuring and reporting energy use in large buildings, we raise awareness of energy and water efficiency and help business owners and tenants identify ways to save energy, water, and money.”

Publicizing the energy data will surely meet the goal to improve transparency of building energy use and time will tell if these legislations are effective in meeting the ultimate goal of energy reduction in these cities. For more information, feel free to contact me at Maureen.roskoski@feapc.com.

Facility Engineering Associates is an engineering and facility management consulting firm specializing in existing facilities. Our mission is to make facilities last by implementing practical and cost-effective strategies to achieve operational excellence. Our areas of expertise include: Facility Asset Management, Facility Diagnostics, Condition Assessment, Repair and Restoration, Energy Management, Environmental Assessment, Sustainability. Office locations: Washington DC, Dallas, TX, Denver, CO, San Francisco, CA

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