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BOMA Opposes Mandatory Energy Benchmarking Disclosure in Chicago

Linda Hardesty

ChicagoEven though the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International supports energy efficiency in buildings, it opposes mandatory energy benchmarking rules. Accordingly, BOMA/Chicago issued a statement in response to the City of Chicago’s proposed benchmarking ordinance:

“On June 26, 2013, Mayor Emanuel unveiled an energy benchmarking ordinance that, if passed by the City Council, would require municipal, commercial and residential properties over 50,000 square feet to track and publicly report their energy usage. BOMA/Chicago shares Mayor Emanuel’s passion and desire to make Chicago’s buildings as energy efficient as possible, and we believe having comprehensive data to benchmark, measure progress and drive value is essential. While we support Mayor Emanuel’s benchmarking ordinance, we believe the public disclosure mandate in the proposed ordinance will unfairly penalize and marginalize many older and historically significant buildings in Chicago. Frankly, not all of our members are Class A LEED Platinum. We represent many buildings that are doing what they can to improve their sustainability and energy efficiency, but still struggle with infrastructure limitations and the cost of retrofit work. Publishing the scores for buildings that simply cannot afford the work necessary to raise them will not ‘shame’ those buildings into achieving higher scores. It will simply impose yet another competitive burden on an already challenged sector.

“We are committed to working with Mayor Emanuel and the Chicago City Council to come to a reasonable compromise on this important issue. Benchmarking empowers building owners and managers with the knowledge to run their buildings as efficiently as possible, and we strongly support it. However, it shouldn’t come at the cost of jeopardizing older and historically significant buildings that make the CBD a unique and desirable place for businesses. We would rather see the many environmental achievements of our buildings celebrated.”

BOMA International and a consortium of real estate organizations facing a similar disclosure mandate in Boston commissioned a study co-authored by Harvard University environmental economist Robert Stavens that concluded there is no credible evidence that a regulatory approach like this is effective in achieving the goals for which such it is intended.

However, some criticized the study for being self-serving, and the mandatory benchmarking ordinance did pass in Boston.

BOMA International, itself, issued a list of the top-10 ways commercial real estate professionals can make energy efficiency and sustainability a priority, beginning with: Benchmark energy and water consumption through Energy Star Portfolio Manager.

Photo credit: www.cityofchicago.org



6 comments on “BOMA Opposes Mandatory Energy Benchmarking Disclosure in Chicago

  1. What BOMA forgets is that without a “Benchmark”, one never knows if one is doing better or worst and most likely will spend monies on items that will save 1% while for the same amount could of saved 10% with a better ROI. Shame on you BOMA

  2. It is all in the details. Often the benchmarking metrics concentrate on the “cool” and easily-measured aspects to define performance while ignoring the passive or more difficult to measure features of construction. Requiring th gathering of data is is great, but we need to get a handle on how to quantify all aspects of performance before we use it as a means to judge buildings.

  3. BOMA does in fact promote benchmarking and transparancy through a number of programs, as described in the article and others described on the BOMA website. What is questioned is the value of a “scarlet letter” like program when market driven improvements in building performance are already working. If the ROI for legislation such as this were viewed in the same light as suggested for building performance enhancements, the effort would be much better spent on better ways to provide building operator training.

  4. The reality that this ordinance hurts older facilities outside of the LEED certified building population is just not true. I work in an organization that has a portfolio stock of 600+ buildings that range in age from 1-100+. We have been benchmarking our our portfolio for the last three years. We have 20 LEED Silver certified buildings and only a small portion of those have above average Energy Star ratings. Now we hav found this is due mainly to lack of efficient operation and not necessarily design. Now a good amount of our older stock of facilities have been able to achieve above average and even outperforming some of our LEED buildings. It frustrates me when efficiency is looked at only through new retrofits and upgrades via LEED instead of starting with energy conservation that in most cases will ultimately will provide for above average Energy star ratings. In my experience a good percentage of facilities will meet or exceed above average performance ratings just through establishing building operational best practices and transparency of performance. This is a great thing for the City of Chicago!!!

  5. Portfolio Manager is a flawed program that uses outdated data and incorrect multipliers to estimate “source” energy values that have nothing to do with building performance. It is so flawed that a building can switch to low efficiency fuel oil systems, use more energy and create more emissions, and get a better score! It is ridiculous!

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