Benefits a long time coming
For Building Owners and Managers, it is important to understand the benefits of ongoing energy monitoring, as well as the ever-increasing legal requirements for public energy benchmarking disclosure. This article discusses California requirements and what to look out for, specifically AB 802 – Energy benchmarking and disclosure in California.
California is on track for the implementation of a statewide energy benchmarking ordinance in 2018, requiring all buildings over 50,000 sf and meeting specific criteria to disclose annual energy consumption to the state energy commission. Local municipalities are also considering their own benchmarking ordinances, expanding the scope of those in place already in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and the Port of San Diego. This shouldn’t be perceived as just a burden or extra requirement – there are hidden benefits that will make it easier for building owners and managers to find efficiencies and retain tenants. Energy disclosure legislation clears the way for owners to obtain whole-building data without hassling tenants, and a better local comparison for energy and water consumption from which efficiencies can be found.
Here is a quick snapshot of AB802 as it currently stands:
- AB 802 will require 50,000 sf and larger buildings to disclose energy data to the state annually (currently discussed for June 1st each year)
- AB 802 also requires utilities to provide owners with whole-building data
- The state will rely on local municipalities to craft local ordinances that focus on building performance, and may cover smaller buildings or currently exempt property types
These ordinances are designed with 2 primary goals: to gain a better regional understanding of energy consumption, and elevate the general understanding of how to compare energy efficiency and savings opportunities (like how we all know Miles Per Gallon and how to compare vehicles). Many ordinances take the form of an annual disclosure of energy and water consumption, and an energy audit and water audit every 5-10 years. If either compliance path is missed, the City or County can fine non-compliant building owners. What I’ve found in benchmarking in 5 major cities is that their energy departments care more about good and comprehensive data than pursuing any penalties. Again, forecasting a path towards effective energy efficiency and renewable energy programs requires both good data and public education.
What does this mean for a building owner? There are 3 key take-aways for consideration:
- AB 802 impacts a list of approximately 45,000 ‘Covered buildings’ out of our larger building stock in the state, approximately 1/10th of our private and public buildings, and applies state-wide.
- Local ordinances tend to work in tandem with statewide programs, impacting buildings of smaller size and more property types (for example LA requires disclosure for private buildings down to 20k sf and city buildings down to 7,500)
- The benefits of having access to whole building data are very numerous for owners and managers of multi-tenant buildings, particularly for understanding building performance beyond just common areas. This allows for capturing whole-building efficiencies during energy and water assessments, and opportunities for creative efficiency incentives between owners and tenants.
- Once you have access to whole building energy data, it is much easier to compare a building with peers. Resources like the DOE/LBNL Buildings Performance Database, or 3rd party energy assessors, can help investigate low/no-cost solutions, and assist with capital planning. Visibility of energy performance and savings opportunities creates momentum towards more efficient buildings.
With our current federal administration’s take on climate change, local and regional commitments to GHG reductions are increasingly important and ever-growing, as is seen with the Covenant of Mayors involving over 250 representatives making climate action commitments. However, I would argue that regardless of any external benefits, an understanding of energy usage within our buildings is step one towards prioritizing efficiency, a business best practice in all sectors.
For more information please see the following links:
- CA Assembly Bill 802: http://www.energy.ca.gov/benchmarking/
- Los Angeles EBEWE Ordinance: http://www.betterbuildingsla.com/
- IMT benchmarking ordinance map: http://www.imt.org/uploads/resources/files/IMT_benchmarkingmap_2.8.2017.jpg
- FMLink article on benchmarking ordinances: http://fmlink.com/articles/city-energy-benchmarking-and-transparency-ordinances/
Please feel free to reach out with any questions or follow-up.
Ravi Bajaj, Healthy Buildings
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