CoStar, DoE Making Energy Data More Accessible

green_buildingThe CoStar Group last week announced a partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) that will make far more information about commercial and industrial buildings’ energy efficiency easily accessible.

The CoStar Property database is one of the key tools used by insiders researching commercial and industrial space. This group includes realtors, brokers and investors. The broadening of the data being offered is being driven by governmental rules and regulations requiring it to be made available. CoStar is moving in parallel to make that data more easily accessible.

Washington, D.C. and Chicago are the first two cities in which the expanded data will be available. More will be added on a regular basis, CoStar says.

It is clear that the populace in general and the real estate ecosystem in particular are increasingly interested in energy efficiency. Driving that interest into the gears of how renting, leasing and sales is an important step in evolving that interest to action. Cliff Majersik, the Executive Director of the Institute for Market Transformation, an organization that works closely with CoStar, said that it is the most important generally available real estate database. The next biggest players are proprietary.

Majerski offered an example of how CoStar is used. Perhaps a broker is working with a client who is looking for 5,000 square feet of space and has three neighborhoods in mind. The realtor would enter the specifics to find candidates that fit the criteria. Having energy efficiency data presented alongside the other data makes it more likely to be part of the decision making process. If the data is not there, separate steps — which may or may not be undertaken — need to be done to gather it.

An analogy for what is happening is that energy efficiency and safety ratings for vehicles are available from the government. Few people who seek them out on their own. However, placing them on the windows of vehicles in the showroom heightens their use and impact and, indeed, makes them one of the keys to a sale or lease. In the same way, Majersik says, energy efficiency figures today are available but not easily utilized. Putting them on the windshield, so to speak, will make them a far more important factor.

The CoStar move is a step to changing that, Majersik said. “This new information being provided at right time through the right channel to the right decision makers,” he said. “It will lead to greater attention to energy efficiency than you have ever seen before. It will motivate building owner and operators to pay more attention and invest more. You will have a virtuous cycle of competition among them.”

Majersik said that the process will be eased for users. The data could include Energy Star scores, energy use intensity, carbon emissions data and whatever else is required in a given municipality. At this point, Majersik said, the major piece of data that generally is not covered is water consumption use. That could come in the future.

Different cities go about energy efficiency mandating in different ways, so it is difficult to generalized about the impact of the CoStar/DoE partnership. For instance, Majersik said New York City, Washington, D.C. and Chicago published energy efficiency data on municipal websites. Initially, they were just posted spreadsheets. Later, the display was in map form.

Now, the data will be in CoStar. “This is where people are getting their information about the buildings anyway,” Majersik said. “Now, they don’t have to leave the app.”

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