Boston’s Mayor Thomas Menino wants large commercial buildings in the city to benchmark their energy usage, but a report studying the effects of benchmarking finds that the costs outweigh the benefits.
The report, commissioned by the Greater Boston Real Estate Board and authored by Robert Stavins, an environmental economist at Harvard University, studied experiences in other cities with similar programs and found that any energy savings are likely to be negligible, according to the Boston Globe.
The study was conducted in conjunction with Analysis Group, a Boston consulting firm, and paid for by the Greater Boston Real Estate Board and The Building Owners and Managers Association. Both groups oppose mandatory monitoring and benchmarking.
Following the trend of several large cities, Menino announced the filing of the Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance with the Boston City Council in February. As a component of the city’s climate action plan to meet Mayor Menino’s greenhouse gas reduction goals, this ordinance would require all large and medium sized-buildings to report their annual energy and water use to the City of Boston. The ordinance requires passage by the Boston City Council.
Seattle has energy benchmarking data going back to 2011 on more than 87 percent of commercial and multifamily buildings 50,000 square feet or larger. Some Seattle companies offer testimonials about the amount of energy they’ve saved after they used the data to make energy efficiency upgrades.
Obviously, benchmarking, monitoring and reporting don’t save energy in themselves. They simply provide the data to base decisions.
The study conducted for Boston, which examined national, state, and municipal energy efficiency policies that target commercial and residential buildings, found that information about their effectiveness and costs to property owners is incomplete, according to the Boston Globe.