Energy use disclosure is, perhaps, the “hottest” public policy issue in the state, local and international building space relative to energy efficiency. Many communities throughout North America – and in other countries (on a national scale, in fact) – have adopted disclosure statutes and ordinances – some requiring disclosure for certain building types and sizes (e.g., over 10,000 ft.2) and some providing incentives (often tax breaks) for building consumers who abide by specific benchmarking and disclosure guidelines.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2011 Buildings Energy Data Book, commercial buildings (i.e., offices, schools, stores, similar nonresidential facilities – whether publicly or privately owned) account for 18.6 percent of U.S. energy consumption. At least 30 percent of this energy is wasted, and investing to reduce this waste is very profitable: a high – and quick – return on financial investment; job creation; pollution reduction; and improving domestic energy security. ASHRAE believes adoption of commercial building energy use disclosure policies by jurisdictions in the U.S. and abroad is a key component to energy waste reduction.
Building energy rating and disclosure policies guide decision-making by a community’s building sector about investing in energy efficiency measures by conveying energy consumption data to real estate consumers (e.g., tenants, investors, lenders) likely to be impacted by buying, leasing, or financing of properties with lower energy costs. With more data made available through disclosure policies, building consumers can factor energy costs and efficiency into purchasing decisions and drive the building sector toward a higher-performance built environment.
How can ASHRAE chapters and members be resources and advocates on this issue?
- ASHRAE’s Procedures for Commercial Building Energy Audits guides owners and operators in their decision-making.
- ASHRAE is updating its Standard 105, which addresses measuring and expressing building energy performance; and is developing Standard 211P to address commercial building energy audits, which establishes consistent practices for conducting and reporting commercial building energy audits
- ASHRAE certifies Energy Assessors and Energy Modelers demonstrating mastery of techniques used in assessing or modeling a building’s energy use.
- ASHRAE’s building energy labeling program, the Building Energy Quotient (bEQ), is a consistent framework for benchmarking a building’s energy use; complies with disclosure requirements; compares a building’s energy use to other buildings of the same type; and provides data and information a building owner or operator can use to improve building performance.
With bEQ in play as a rating and disclosure tool available for communities and countries to use – both in the as designed and in operation stages – and as a business opportunity for ASHRAE-certified professionals (i.e., Building Energy Modeling Professionals [BEMPs], Building Energy Assessment Professionals [BEAPs]), ASHRAE, its chapters, and its members would do well to be engaged with policymakers in their respective communities to ensure that full consideration is given to the potential implementation of bEQ as a specified method of compliance with benchmarking and disclosure policies.
In Florida, for example, this past legislative session, Governor Rick Scott signed into law provisions requiring all commercial and state government buildings permitted for construction after January 1, 1995 to be assessed for energy performance. At present, per the new statutes, there is no specific reference to the use of bEQ as a building energy assessment option or to ASHRAE-certified professionals performing those assessments. However, ASHRAE members in the Sunshine State are crafting draft legislation for the next legislative session (which convenes in March 2014) and working with state regulatory bodies to open up new channels for enhancing Florida ASHRAE members’ bottom lines and raising bEQ’s profile as a shovel-ready tool for design and building professionals across the state.
What are the benchmarking, disclosure, and rating system laws or options in your community? Are there opportunities for ASHRAE to be a greater resource to local governments – both through its members and its programs (in this case, ASHRAE certifications and bEQ)? These are the types of questions central to the primary goal of the new Grassroots Government Activities Committee and its leaders throughout the Society: making ASHRAE a means of key technical support in decision-making on issues related to the built environment.
For additional information, please contact Mark Wills, ASHRAE’s Manager of State and Local Government Affairs, at email@example.com.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) fourth annual Energy Star National Building Competition, “Battle of the Buildings” has begun, with teams across the country vying to reduce their buildings’ energy use, as tracked using EPA’s Portfolio Manager tool
. The Battle targets commercial buildings, encouraging them to become more energy efficient. This year, for the first time ever, tenants occupying part of a building are also eligible to compete.
The Battle began three years ago, and has seen a dramatic rise in participation, from 14 buildings in 2010 to over 3,200 this year. The winners of the competition receive public recognition from EPA through traditional and social media.
For additional information on the Battle, visit http://ow.ly/o60mg.