Energy Benchmarking Boom: Why Buildings Are Getting Scored for Efficiency

Buildings on Notice: The Rise of Mandatory Energy Benchmarking

Across the globe, cities and states are taking a proactive stance on building efficiency. One key strategy gaining traction is mandatory energy benchmarking. Just like a miles-per-gallon rating for your car, benchmarking assigns a score based on a building’s energy consumption compared to similar structures.

What is Driving the Change?

Buildings are significant energy guzzlers, accounting for a staggering 40% of global energy use according to the International Energy Agency. This translates to major environmental impact through greenhouse gas emissions. Mandatory benchmarking is a powerful tool to promote transparency and encourage efficiency improvements.

Benefits Beyond Compliance

While complying with regulations is essential, the advantages of benchmarking extend far beyond avoiding penalties. Building owners who embrace energy efficiency can expect to see:

  • Reduced Operating Costs: Lower energy consumption translates directly to significant cost savings on utility bills.
  • Increased Property Value: Energy-efficient buildings are in high demand, potentially commanding higher rents or sale prices.
  • Enhanced Brand Image: Demonstrating a commitment to sustainability strengthens a company’s reputation and attracts environmentally conscious tenants and investors.

A Look Ahead

The future of energy benchmarking promises continued growth and innovation. For instance, Seattle recently implemented mandatory benchmarking for all buildings over 50,000 square feet. Their program requires annual reporting through ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, a nationally recognized platform from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and makes building scores publicly available.

Success stories like Seattle’s showcase the effectiveness of benchmarking in driving positive change. As regulations evolve, we can expect even stricter standards and a growing focus on integrating advanced data analytics and smart building technologies to further optimize energy use. Organizations like ENERGY STAR will likely play an even bigger role in providing resources, tools, and recognition programs to support successful benchmarking initiatives.

Challenges and Considerations

Implementing mandatory benchmarking programs is not without its challenges. Data collection can be complex, especially for older buildings without sophisticated metering systems. Additionally, ensuring data accuracy and consistency across different building types requires robust protocols.

Taking Action

Building owners can get ahead of the curve by taking proactive steps towards energy efficiency. Here are a few simple measures to consider:

  • Upgrade Lighting Systems: Replacing traditional bulbs with LED alternatives can significantly reduce lighting energy consumption.
  • Optimize HVAC Controls: Implement automated controls to ensure heating and cooling systems operate efficiently and only when necessary.
  • Conduct Regular Maintenance: Schedule routine maintenance for HVAC equipment to ensure optimal performance and prevent energy waste.

Program Variations Across Cities

Mandatory benchmarking requirements vary by city or state. While many programs require annual reporting through platforms like ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, some allow for less frequent submissions. Third-party verification of the data may also be a requirement in some jurisdictions.

It’s crucial to research the specific program details in your city to ensure compliance. For example, the City of Seattle requires annual benchmarking for large buildings, while other cities might have different requirements.

The Growing Landscape of Benchmarking

As of today, there are at least 78 jurisdictions across the United States and Canada that require mandatory energy benchmarking according to a resource from ENERGY STAR . This number is likely to grow as more cities and states recognize the benefits of this powerful tool for promoting energy efficiency in buildings.

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