Benchmarking With Energy Star®: Your Means for Regulatory Reporting

Ricardo Fleury

For over a decade, ENERGY STAR has provided a platform for buildings to benchmark energy performance against peers. In its simplest form, the result of benchmarking through ENERGY STAR’s platform, Portfolio Manager, is a score between 1 and 100. That score represents a building’s energy performance in terms of percentile (1 = least efficient, 100 = most efficient). ENERGY STAR’s benchmarking program has been widely adopted, and as a result, ENERGY STAR has constructed an extraordinarily large data set of energy and water consumption for buildings.

Increasingly, local lawmakers have come to understand the potential of having such a large data set and have established compliance programs for obtaining energy and water consumption data for all (or a subset) of its customers. Over the last few years, this shift has accelerated as more jurisdictions, typically state or municipal authorities, have adopted regulatory reporting requirements for energy and water consumption as part of their energy reduction goals and overall sustainability strategy. Local authorities have overwhelmingly chosen ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager as the tool for regulatory reporting.

Regulatory reporting requirements vary among the different local governments; however, in all cases, the requirement is based purely on disclosure―none of the jurisdictions have energy efficiency minimums or require a certain ENERGY STAR score. A list of all jurisdictions that require reporting can be viewed here. While some jurisdictions require that a building report consumption only when it is sold, as California does in California AB1103, the market is shifting towards yearly disclosure cycles. Some examples of local governments that have established yearly reporting requirements include Philadelphia, Austin, Seattle, Washington DC, and Boston―and the list grows every year. This means every year buildings covered by the local ordinance or law must disclose a set of energy bills covering a full year’s worth of consumption to the local government or risk fines for non-compliance. New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Boston and Minneapolis require reporting on water consumption in addition to energy consumption.

For buildings already using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager for benchmarking purposes, the process of submitting reports to the regulatory authority is relatively quick and painless since the underlying data is already available. For buildings that do not benchmark with ENERGY STAR, the process is more complicated since they must first add all energy (and water depending on the jurisdiction) bills and building information to the system before submitting.

Ecova has been the market leader in ENERGY STAR benchmarking for years (we have the most buildings benchmarked in ENERGY STAR in the country!). Many of these buildings are in jurisdictions with regulatory benchmarking requirements, and consequently, Ecova has helped clients throughout the country comply with reporting mandates (and avoid fines). If your organization has buildings in these jurisdictions, contact Ecova to begin reporting your buildings.

This is the first in a monthly series of blog posts related to ENERGY STAR. Next month, I will cover ENERGY STAR certification for buildings.

To learn more, join Ecova and guest Nils Klinkenberg from the EPA in our upcoming webinar, as we share how your organization can leverage EPA’s ENERGY STAR program to improve efficiencies, cut costs and gain federal recognition as an energy efficient building. Watch here. Register today for this important webinar.

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