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Policy Library

Create Green Jobs and Cleaner Air with Energy Efficiency Benchmarking for Large Buildings

Providing heating, cooling, lighting, and electricity to buildings consumes 70% of the entire electric load generated in the United States, which is the largest source of carbon pollution and a major driver of dangerous air pollution in the United States. Lowering energy usage can reduce costs and harmful emissions, and most buildings can do so with common-sense updates that create green jobs and pay for themselves. The Building To Building Efficiency Act creates a process for large commercial and government buildings to measure and report their energy use, and generate efficiency improvements that will save money, create green jobs and improve health outcomes.

The National Landscape

Passed in:

California (12), Connecticut, Delaware, Oklahoma, Oregon, Washington

Introduced in:

D.C., Hawaii (12), Missouri, New York (123), Virginia

In The News

“Through energy-efficient lighting, new and improved heating and cooling systems and improved operations at the Moccasin Bend Sewage plant, the city of Chattanooga has cut its use of energy by 30% since 2013 and city officials are looking for more savings in the future… the first step was benchmarking — ‘you can't manage what you don't measure.”
“The discussion around climate change often focuses on how to ramp up carbon-neutral forms of energy, but if the world is to ... avoid the worst effects of global warming, people also need to use energy more efficiently.”
“Through better and continuous insulation, airtightness and ventilation with heat recovery, the cost of heating a building can be reduced by 90 percent. That’s significant when you consider the fact that getting structures to this level of energy efficiency doesn’t require much upfront”

Partners

  • Environmental advocates
  • Property owners looking to reduce utility bills

Opposition

  • Property owners who don’t want to encourage industry-wide efficiency increases
Call us for real-time support using this library, problem-solving tips, and follow-up from our team of national experts:
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FAQ

Who does this help?
This policy helps building owners, including the state, save money by reducing energy use. The policy helps everyone with the benefits of reduced air pollution, carbon emissions, and can lower energy costs by reducing demand.
Is this a burden on small business or residents?
No. Only large buildings measure and report energy use under this policy, and energy use is reported for the entire building, not for individual residences.
Does reporting (or “benchmarking”) really work?
Yes. Research on thousands of buildings that undertook energy benchmarking found notable declines in average energy use.
Is this high cost to the state?
No. Cities and states that have implemented benchmarking programs recouped their investment in benchmarking programs by reducing energy use across all their properties.
Print

Model Policy

SECTION 1 (TITLE):
This act shall be known as the Energy Efficiency Benchmark Act.

SECTION 2 (PURPOSE):
To assist large and state-owned buildings to save money through increased energy efficiency

SECTION 3 (PROVISIONS):

(a) STATE is dedicated to the mutually compatible goals of environmental protection, energy security, and economic growth; that increasing energy efficiency has been identified as among the most cost-effective methods for reducing greenhouse gases and other environmental emissions, and for increasing energy security; and that increasing energy efficiency can lead to increased jobs and a reduction in building operating expenses.

(b) Improving energy efficiency of state buildings.
  • (i) Definitions. For the purposes of this section, the following terms are defined as follows:
  • (1) “Affected state entities” means (I) all agencies and departments over which the Governor has executive authority, and (II) all public benefit corporations, public authorities and commissions, for which the Governor appoints the chair, the Chief Executive, or the majority of the board members.
  • (2) “Average source energy use intensity” or “average EUI” means the average source energy use per square foot for all state-owned and managed buildings.
  • (3) “Guidelines” means the guidelines developed by the Central Management and Implementation Team pursuant to section (iii)(2)(a) below.
  • (4) “Source energy” means all the energy used in delivering energy to a site, including power generation, transmission and distribution losses.
  • (5) “Target” means the energy reduction target established in section (ii) below.
  • (ii) Energy reduction target. By April 1, 20[XX], all affected state entities shall collectively reduce the average EUI in buildings owned by the government of STATE or buildings where affected state entities perform the majority of their function, by at least [twenty] percent from a baseline of the average EUI of such buildings for state fiscal year 20[XX] - 20[XY].
  • (iii) Obligations to meet target. The STATE Environmental Protection Agency [or other appropriate state entity] shall, within six months of the effective date of this legislation, establish a Central Management and Implementation Team (“CMIT”) to administer this section.
  • (1) The CMIT is hereby directed and authorized to:
  • (A)take all appropriate measures to ensure the target is met;
  • (B) direct affected state entities to comply with the requirements of this section;
  • (C) provide strategic, technical, and other assistance to each affected state entity to support implementation of this section;
  • (2) The CMIT shall:
  • (A) within nine months of the effective date of this section, create guidelines to assist affected state entities in complying with this section, including a scoring system for energy use and a determination of a threshold that would identify buildings that would be required to undertake an audit; CMIT shall thereafter update such guidelines as necessary;
  • (B) within twelve months of the effective date of this section, develop annual milestones for achieving the energy reduction target;
  • (C) within twelve months of the effective date of this section, develop and implement reporting requirements to document each affected state entity’s progress toward meeting the energy reduction target;
  • (D) within twenty-four months of the effective date of this section, develop a comprehensive operations and maintenance plan for the state’s building portfolio to help achieve no-cost and low-cost efficiency improvements and ensure that efficiency savings are sustained; and
  • (E) submit an annual report to the Governor, and [the Speaker or President of each house of the legislature], and post on the DEPARTMENT’s website, by January 15 of each year, beginning in 20[XX], detailing the progress that affected state entities are making toward meeting the target. The target shall be included in the annual report.
  • (3) Any state agency with oversight on energy initiatives or research, or any state agency the Legislature deems to have the requisite skill and expertise, is hereby directed to provide technical assistance to the CMIT and each of the affected state entities with respect to complying with and implementing the requirements of this section and those established by the CMIT pursuant to this section.
  • (IV) In addition to the requirements established above, each of the affected state entities shall comply with the following:
  • (1) Benchmarking. For each fiscal year, each affected state entity shall measure, using the methods established in the guidelines, the energy use in state-owned and -managed buildings having an area greater than twenty thousand square feet. Buildings on master-metered campuses shall be benchmarked at the campus level until they are sub-metered at the building level, after which point those buildings shall be benchmarked at the building level.
  • (2) Audits. Buildings that receive low benchmark scores, as defined by the guidelines, shall undergo an American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Engineers (“ASHRAE”) level II energy audit, or any comparable audit that the CMIT approves. Campuses that have above-average EUIs or poor benchmark scores, as defined by the guidelines, or are otherwise prioritized by the affected state entities and the CMIT, shall undergo a campus-wide ASHRAE level II energy audit, or any comparable audit that the CMIT approves. In addition to energy efficiency measures, the audits shall identify opportunities for cost-effective on-site renewable generation and high-efficiency combined heat and power.
  • (3) Required capital projects and energy optimization measures. Affected state entities shall implement a cost-effective portfolio of measures identified and recommended in the audit and shall complete or make substantial progress toward completion of such measures within two years of completion of the audit. A portfolio may include, but shall not be limited to, no- and low-cost operational improvements, retro-commissioning, capital energy efficiency retrofits, on-site renewable and high-efficiency combined heat and power, and other measures identified by the CMIT.
  • (4) Sub-metering. Affected state entities shall work with the CMIT to prioritize sub-metering for all relevant energy sources of buildings larger than 100,000 square feet on a master-metered campus to identify ways to finance sub-metering. All buildings having an area larger than one hundred thousand square feet on master-metered campuses shall be sub-metered for all fuels and other energy sources by December 31, 20[XX], to enable individual buildings benchmarking unless the affected state entity that owns or operates the building can demonstrate to the CMIT that it is not cost-effective or feasible to do so.
  • (5) Incorporating energy efficiency analysis in the capital planning process. As part of the capital planning process, all affected state entities shall include an energy efficiency analysis in the design phase of all capital project plans. The capital project shall include energy efficient measures or technologies determined to be most cost-effective, as defined by the guidelines.
  • (6) Reporting. No later than October 1 of each calendar year, starting in [20XX], each affected state entity shall submit all information requested by the CMIT on all state-owned and managed buildings having an area over twenty thousand square feet, as well as any other information related to assessing compliance with this section.
  • (V) Exemptions. Electric usage attributable to vehicle charging shall not be included in the target and requirements of this section. The CMIT is authorized to provide other exemptions for good cause shown pursuant to criteria and procedures established in the guidelines, including exceptions associated with buildings that have obtained and maintained Energy Star or similar certification, or have benchmark scores placing such buildings in the top quartile of comparable buildings for the particular year at issue. Affected state entities shall submit requests for annual exemptions to the CMIT. Any such request for exemptions and resulting determination by the CMIT shall be included in the annual report.

(c) Improving energy efficiency of private buildings. [The applicable body of laws in STATE] is amended to read as follows:
  • (i) Definitions. As used in this section, the following terms shall have the following meanings:
  • (1) “Benchmark” means to input and submit to the benchmarking tool the total use of energy and water for a building for the previous calendar year ending December 31, and other descriptive information for such building as required by the benchmarking tool.
  • (2) “Benchmarking tool” means the internet-based database system developed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, such as Portfolio Manager, and any complementary interface designated by the Department, to track and assess the energy and water use of certain buildings relative to similar buildings.
  • (3) “Covered building” means:
  • (A) any building that exceeds fifty thousand gross square feet; or
  • (B) two or more buildings on the same tax lot that together exceed one hundred thousand gross square feet; or
  • (C) two or more buildings held in the condominium form of ownership that are governed by the same board of managers and that together exceed one hundred thousand gross square feet. Exception: the term “covered building” shall not include any building that is owned by the government of STATE, or any building where affected state entities, as defined in (b)(i)(1), perform the majority of their essential functions.
  • (4) “Data center” means a room or rooms used primarily to house high density computing equipment, such as server racks, used for data storage and processing.
  • (5) “Dwelling unit” means a single unit consisting of one or more habitable rooms, occupied or arranged to be occupied as a unit separate from all other units within a building, and used primarily for residential purposes and not primarily for professional or commercial purposes.
  • (6) “Energy” means electricity, natural gas, fuel oil, and steam.
  • (7) “Owner” means the owner of record, provided that “owner” shall be deemed to include:
  • (A) the net lessee in the case of a building subject to a net lease with a term of at least forty-nine years, inclusive of all renewal options;
  • (B) the board of managers in the case of a condominium; and
  • (C) the board of directors in the case of a cooperative apartment corporation.
  • (8) “Tenant” means any tenant, tenant-stockholder of a cooperative apartment corporation, condominium unit owner or other occupant.
  • (ii) Utility data and dwelling unit aggregation. On and after January 1, 20[XX], each utility shall maintain records of the energy usage data of all buildings to which they provide service for at least the most recent 12 complete calendar months.
  • (1) Where a covered building has 5 or more individually metered dwelling units, each utility shall deliver to the building owner information showing the aggregated energy usage data of all utility customers in the same building for each of the 12 prior months.
  • (2) Each utility shall deliver to the building owner, upload to the benchmarking tool, or otherwise provide aggregated energy usage data within four weeks of receiving a request from an owner, owner’s agent, or operator of a covered building.
  • (3) Notwithstanding any other law, energy usage data aggregated in this manner shall not be deemed customer utility usage information or confidential information by the utility for purposes of delivery to the owner, owner’s agent, or operator of a building.
  • (4) The building owner and utility shall not have any liability for any use or disclosure by others of aggregated energy usage data delivered as required by this section.
  • (5) Each utility shall make available the covered building energy usage data aggregated at a monthly level unless otherwise specified by the Department.
  • (iii) Benchmarking required for covered buildings. The owner of a covered building shall annually benchmark such covered building no later than May 1, 20[XX], and no later than every May 1 thereafter. Benchmarking of water shall not be required unless the building was equipped with automatic meter reading equipment by the DEPARTMENT for the entirety of the previous calendar year. The owner or the owner’s representative performing the benchmarking shall consult with the operating staff of the building, as appropriate.
  • (1) Obligation to request and to report information. Where a unit or other space in a covered building, other than a dwelling unit, is occupied by a tenant and such unit or space is separately metered by a utility company, the owner of such building shall request from such tenant information relating to such tenant’s separately metered energy use for the previous calendar year and such tenant shall report such information to such owner.
  • (A) Owner solicitation of tenant information. Such owner shall request information relating to such tenant’s separately metered energy use for the previous calendar year no earlier than January 1 and no later than January 31 of any year in which the owner is required to benchmark such building. The Department may require that such owner provide such tenant with a form designated by the department to report such information.
  • (B) Tenant reporting of information. Such tenant shall report information relating to such tenant’s separately metered energy use for the previous calendar year no later than February 15 of any year in which the owner is required to benchmark such building. Such information shall be reported in a form and manner determined by the Department.
  • (C) Provision of information prior to vacating a unit or other space. Where such owner receives notice that such tenant intends to vacate such unit or other space before reporting information in accordance with this paragraph, such owner shall request information relating to such tenant’s energy use for any period of occupancy relevant to such owner’s obligation to benchmark. Any such tenant shall report such information to the owner of such building prior to vacating such unit or other space, or as soon as practicable thereafter, regardless of whether such owner has requested information pursuant to this section. Such information shall be reported in a form and manner determined by the Department.
  • (D) Continuing obligation to benchmark. The failure of any or all tenants to report the information required by this paragraph to the owner shall not relieve such owner of the obligation to benchmark pursuant to this title, provided that such owner shall not be required to benchmark such information reported by a tenant unless otherwise available to such owner.
  • (2) Preservation of documents, inspection, and audit. Owners of covered buildings shall maintain such records as the department determines are necessary for carrying out the purposes of this article, including but not limited to energy and water bills and reports of forms received from tenants. Such records shall be preserved for a period of three years, provided that the Commissioner may consent to their destruction within that period or may require that such records be preserved longer than such period. At the request of the Department, such records shall be made available for inspection and audit by the department at the place of business of the owner or at the offices of the department during normal business hours.
  • (3) Violations. It shall be unlawful for the owner of a covered building to fail to benchmark pursuant to subdivision two of this section. Willful noncompliance with this section shall be subject to a fine to be set by regulations of the Department.
  • (iv) Direct upload. Information shall be directly uploaded to the benchmarking tool in accordance with the following:
  • (1) Direct upload by a utility company or other source. The Department shall encourage and facilitate any utility company or any other source authorized by the DEPARTMENT to upload directly to the benchmarking tool, as soon as practicable after December 31 of each year, information necessary to benchmark a building. Where information is uploaded directly to the benchmarking tool by a utility company or other authorized source, owners and tenants shall not be obligated to request and report such information pursuant to part (c)(ii)(1)(B) of this Act.
  • (2) Direct upload by the DEPARTMENT. The Department shall upload directly to the benchmarking tool information on water use at all buildings that were equipped with automatic meter reading equipment by the department for the entirety of the previous calendar year and that are subject to the benchmarking requirements of this title.
  • (v) Suspension. The Commissioner may suspend all or part of the requirement to benchmark pursuant to this title upon a written finding that a technological deficiency in the benchmarking tool precludes compliance with this title. The Commissioner may lift all or part of any such suspension upon a written finding that such deficiency has been corrected. The Department shall notify the Governor, the Speaker of the House (or Assembly), the President of the Senate, and the department of taxation and finance promptly upon issuing a suspension or lifting a suspension pursuant to this section.
  • (vi) Notification and transmission of information. The Department of Taxation and Finance (or comparable state entity) shall:
  • (1) Annually notify owners of covered buildings of their obligation to benchmark pursuant to subdivision (ii) of this section, provided that the failure of the Department of Taxation and Finance (or state entity providing oversight) to notify any such owner shall not affect the obligation of such owner to benchmark pursuant to such section.
  • (2) Notify owners of covered buildings of any suspension or lifting of a suspension pursuant to subdivision (iv) of this section.
  • (3) Make available to the DEPARTMENT information regarding owners of covered buildings for which no benchmarking information was generated by the benchmarking tool.
  • (vii) Disclosure. The Department of Taxation and Finance (or analogous STATE entity) shall make information generated by the benchmarking tool available to the public on the internet no later than September 1, 20[XX], and no later than every September 1 thereafter for covered buildings whose primary use is residential, as determined by the Department of Taxation and Finance (or analogous state entity). Such information shall include, but need not be limited to:
  • (1) the Energy Utilization Index,
  • (2) the water use per gross square foot, if required;
  • (3) where available, a rating that compares the energy and water use of the building to that of similar buildings, and
  • (4) a comparison of data across calendar years for any years such building was benchmarked. Covered buildings shall not have information generated by the benchmark tool during the first year after enactment publicly disclosed. Covered buildings whose primary use is residential as determined by the Department of Taxation and Finance (or analogous STATE entity), shall not have information generated by the benchmark tool during the first two years after enactment publicly disclosed.
  • (5) Exception: ratings generated by the benchmarking tool for a covered building that contains a data center, television studio, and/or trading floor that together exceed ten percent of the gross square footage of any such building shall not be disclosed until the Department determines that the benchmarking tool can make adequate adjustments for such facilities. When the Department determines that the benchmarking tool can make such adjustments, it shall report such determination to the governor, the Speaker of the House (or Assembly), and the President of the Senate. Until such determination is made, the department shall report biennially to the Governor, the Speaker of the House (or Assembly), and the President of the Senate that the benchmarking tool is unable to make such adjustments.
  • (viii) Report. No later than December 31 of 20[XX] and 20[XY], respectively, the Department shall prepare, submit to the Governor, the Speaker of the House (or Assembly), the President of the Senate, and post on the internet site used for disclosure in section (c)(vii) a report reviewing and evaluating the administration and enforcement of this title and analyzing data obtained from the benchmarking tool. Such report shall contain information regarding:
  • (1) The energy and water efficiency of buildings covered by this section,
  • (2) The accuracy of benchmarked data and whether there is a need to train and/or certify individuals who benchmark,
  • (3) Compliance with the requirements of this title,
  • (4) Any administrative and legislative recommendations for strengthening the administration and enforcement of this title,
  • (5) The effectiveness of the benchmarking tool in accounting for STATE conditions, including but not limited to, high density occupancies, use of steam, large building size, and specific high-energy uses such as data centers, television studios, and trading floors, and
  • (6) Such other information and analysis as the Department deems appropriate.
  • (ix) Rules. The DEPARTMENT may promulgate such rules as deemed necessary to carry out the provisions of this title.