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How We Get to Zero Carbon Buildings

By 2040, the goal is to have half of existing buildings retrofitted to zero-carbon levels. New building performance standards can help

How We Get to Zero Carbon Buildings

Buildings play a big role in when — and if — we reach net zero carbon emissions. In this webinar, Amy Boyce, Associate Director of Codes and Technical Strategy, IMT (Institute for Market Transformation), explains the role of improved energy codes and existing building performance standards in the quest to get to zero-carbon buildings, and their impact on everyday operations.

In this video, which can earn you continuing education credits, you'll learn:

  • The relationship between energy codes, benchmarking ordinances, and building performance standards
  • Current cities and states with building performance standards
  • How facility managers can turn their existing building into a high-performing building to meet zero-carbon goals

Here's a preview:

How do these relate to Building Performance Standards? As mentioned, one of the basic elements of a BPS is the choice of metric. So as you see here, those same elements that are part of portfolio manager show up as potential metrics for a building performance standard looking at Energy Star, score site, EUI source, EUI and greenhouse gas emissions intensity.

Now all of these have various pros and cons in in terms of being used as a metric for a building performance standard. The elements here that we're looking at. First of all, are these items compared compatible with a long-term standard? The Energy Star score gets re-evaluated every time a new commercial building energy survey is performed so that is not useful for a long-term standard as it's not predictable while the other elements are able to be are consistent over time.

Next is the metric fully within the control of the owner? In this case, site EUI is the only one that owners and operators have direct influence over. However, some of the other issues come into whether you can take into account outside conditions such as weather. So with the exception of greenhouse gas emission intensity, all of the other metrics are able to be normalized for weather through Energy Star portfolio manager. However, the only one that is able to be normalized for business characteristics like the amount of people and schedules is Energy Star score, which is not available for all buildings. Not every building is Energy Star eligible.

And finally one other element, generation and distribution losses, are able to be evaluated for all metrics except for site EUI though the site-to-source multiplier for Energy Star score and the source EUI from portfolio manager are calculated as a national average so they don't reflect local conditions.

This map here shows existing building performance standards throughout the U.S. It is actually not even up to date right now as Boston was just added last week. The additional dots here that you will see are those that are strongly considering and have in process the possibility of adopting a building performance standard. While few cities have BPS now, that number is expected to dramatically increase in the next few years, ramping up much more aggressively than the benchmarking. So those cities that are existing again, the exception of Boston are shown here with the different metrics and different elements. Of those, notice that the earliest adopted BPS in the U.S. was in 2019 and the first compliance deadline is not until 2024 in New York City, which means we don't have any actual data on the implementation and the enforcement or any other elements of BPS in a city.

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