While many initiatives exist nationwide to encourage energy-use benchmarking in buildings, two jurisdictions have taken the next bold step and written benchmarking into law. To boot, both include disclosure requirements.
Leading the pack when it comes to environmentally conscious measures, California was the first to pass energy-use-disclosure legislation in fall 2007 applicable to buildings beyond government facilities. Fast on its heels, Washington, D.C., also passed a benchmarking law for all non-residential facilities, upping the ante on the disclosure component by stipulating it be made readily available to the public.
Supporting these assorted initiatives, EPA’s ENERGY STAR Program — specifically its Portfolio Manager — is the benchmarking vehicle of choice. Portfolio Manager is a free online tool that can track energy and water consumption in a building or portfolio of buildings. Over 80,000 buildings already benchmark with Portfolio Manager.Additional functionality is being developed to further help the tool support the different national, state and local benchmarking efforts.
With other jurisdictions poised to make their legislative debuts on the energy efficiency national stage, understanding what is already in place elsewhere can help facility executives prepare for what comes next.
Enacted in October 2007, the major component of California’s Assembly Bill 1103 (AB 1103) requires that, as of Jan. 1, 2010, non-residential buildings release their Portfolio Manager-benchmarked data and ratings for the previous 12 months to parties in a commercial real estate transaction involving the sale, lease or financing of a whole building. The intent of the law is “commercial valuation of energy usage” during a financial transaction, just as square footage is valued, says Martha Brook, senior mechanical engineer with the California Energy Commission (CEC).
AB 1103 requires electric or gas utilities in California to maintain their customer’s energy use data in a format compatible for uploading into Portfolio Manager, for at least the most recent 12 months, as of Jan. 1, 2009. The major utilities have worked with ENERGY STAR to automate the uploading process once they’ve received permission from the utility account owner. Some utilities also have tools in place to receive data back from Portfolio Manager, such as facility square footage, so they can help their clients with their efficiency.
A preexisting executive order, S-20-04, already mandated benchmarking the energy efficiency of state buildings.
CEC has a work group in place to create the regulations regarding AB 1103. Details such as an implementation schedule, how exactly the benchmarked data will be disclosed and what to do about exceptional spaces (such as buildings vacant for months) will be submitted for consideration by the CEC by late summer, says Brook. Because many building types in California can’t get a rating through Portfolio Manager, CEC is considering a statewide disclosure form that would also contain a California-specific rating so that these building types can be compared to their peers, Brook says.
As disclosure of benchmarking information occurs only upon a whole-building transaction, the actual number of buildings that will be releasing their energy use data with any regularity is unknown. However, some experts hope that normal market forces, such as interest in ENERGY STAR ratings, will drive a push toward universal disclosure.
California AB 1103 Requires Energy Benchmarking Data Released During Sales
Washington D. C.'s Clean and Affordable Energy Act of 2008 Explained
Energy Star Portfolio Manager: How It is Used for Benchmarking
States and Cities that Require Benchmarking