Did you know that if you operate or own commercial buildings in certain parts of the country you are now or may be soon required to track your building’s energy performance through the EPA’s ENERGY STAR program? In an effort to drive down energy consumption and promote sustainability, many cities, counties and states have passed legislation that requires buildings of a certain size and ownership type to report utility consumption via ENERGY STAR’s web based reporting tool, Portfolio Manager. Some municipalities will even charge a fine if a company fails to report energy performance.
What Is ENERGY STAR?
ENERGY STAR is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy helping us all save money and protect the environment through energy efficient products and practices. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), 18% of all the energy produced in the United States is employed to cool, heat, light, or accomplish other functions within commercial buildings. ENERGY STAR for buildings uses a tool called Portfolio Manager to capture cost and consumption information from a building’s utility bills. Using this information, ENERGY STAR then measures the performance of a building against the national average for similar building types. Depending on the main function of a building, ENERGY STAR uses the appropriate algorithm to apply a rating from zero to one hundred.
Why do the Ratings Matter?
Simply stated, a good score can provide a building’s owners with bragging rights via an ENERGY STAR label, which can result in motivating potential tenants to lease space in their building, or marketing a company’s “greenness” and sense of corporate responsibility against their competitors.
If a site receives a rating of 75 or higher, that building is eligible to apply for an ENERGY STAR label that can be placed on the building. If an application is approved, the building will receive an ENERGY STAR decal of the ENERGY STAR logo that can be placed in a visible location to let patrons know that building is a leader in energy efficiency and sustainability. In addition to getting a decal for specific locations, a company receiving multiple labels or showing a significant energy reduction can apply to become an ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year or an ENERGY STAR leader. All of these different recognition opportunities can position a company as a leader in sustainable resource consumption.
What’s Coming and Where is Reporting Required?
Many municipalities are passing legislation that mandates ENERGY STAR benchmarking and reporting. New York City was the first to require participation in ENERGY STAR reporting; since then, we’ve seen a significant increase in requirements by other major cities. Seattle, Austin, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Washington D.C., and Philadelphia now require, or will shortly require, ENERGY STAR benchmarking and reporting. Several of these cities necessitate reporting for commercial buildings that are larger than a certain size, and each year the building size required to report decreases.
To obtain a complete listing of all federal, state, and local governments recommending the use of ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager please visit: http://www.energystar.gov/ia/business/government/State_Local_Govts_Leveraging_ES.pdf
Why is ENERGY STAR Reporting Beneficial?
ENERGY STAR reporting provides an opportunity for benchmarking, which brings visibility into how your sites are performing. This enables you to target specific sites that should be reviewed further, including those that can benefit from efficiency improvement or best practice recommendations.
Just like comparing your sites against themselves is beneficial, so is comparing your sites against your peers. Reporting will allow you to see how your buildings are performing compared with similar building types by industry, also providing you with the information needed to focus your energy efficiency efforts.
What if my Buildings Don’t Receive a Favorable Score?
If your buildings don’t receive an ENERGY STAR score greater than 75, there are a number of things you can do to improve energy efficiency. And the good news is, you’ve already completed the first step in identifying where to focus your efforts. The next step is to investigate why and how.
You can get started reporting by both establishing a Portfolio Manager account at www.ENERGYSTAR.gov and uploading each of your individual sites yourselves, or you can call a Data Exchange Provider, like Ecova, who helps benchmark over 25,000 sites in Portfolio Manager each month.
Using a Data Exchange Provider can save a considerable amount of resources that would have been spent gathering and entering cost and consumption information into Portfolio Manager for each building. It also eliminates the potential for manual error.
If you are located in one of the areas in the map above, or if you are responsible for buildings located in the areas above, it’s time to start thinking about reporting your energy usage in order to fulfill requirements and avoid potential fees.
Other Useful Links
Washington D.C.: http://green.dc.gov/node/412002