How Energy Benchmarking Laws Improve Commercial Buildings

Submitting energy data for energy benchmarking is all too often a pain point for building operators and property managers. Digging up old energy bills, understanding what specific information is required, and inputting the data into a filing service takes a lot of time, without a return – aside from checking off “compliance” in the to-do list.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. With today’s technologies, collecting and submitting benchmarking data should be just a few simple clicks. Plus, there are many benefits to benchmarking that are entirely overlooked. The results are astounding: commercial buildings that consistently benchmarked in San Francisco cut back energy consumption by 7.9% and reduced total greenhouse gas emissions by 17%. Great improvements like San Francisco have been reported across the US. Let’s dive deeper into the benefits of benchmarking.

 

Reducing Energy Cost With Data Driven Operations

On average, buildings that consistently benchmark reduce 2.4% of their energy use, but many areas have made larger strides in energy reduction. In New York City, for example, buildings realized an average savings of 5.7%, resulting in $267M back in the pockets of key stakeholders.

Although operators often only look at utility data to charge tenants and pay monthly bills, building owners and property managers have already collected very useful information for energy benchmarking. This energy data can show where the building is run inefficiently, allowing the building operations team to make necessary adjustments during particular months.

Real-time data with an energy management system provides even more granular information, allowing key decision-makers to make informed operational choices. According to the US EPA, buildings waste 30% of the energy they consume; utilizing real-time data can help close the gap, with no-cost changes saving an average of 10% on utility bills. Since annual operating costs in commercial and industrial buildings often tops $100,000, even incremental improvements can make a big difference in a building’s bottom line and the health of communities.

 

Transparency Vital To Building Operations

Transparency in buildings changes the dialogue completely. The public sector better understands where energy is being used and what types of buildings are consuming more, allowing them to more appropriately allocate funds to reduce energy use with cost-effective projects. Tenants of commercial and corporate buildings will better understand their energy bills and can identify ways to cut back with disclosed energy data. The general public will have access to energy data across the city and can see why buildings consume the most energy of any sector.

With all this information, key partnerships encourage collaboration on energy initiatives and sustainability policies. In Chicago, strategic partnerships across the private, public, and nonprofit sectors have empowered stakeholders to reduce the total energy use in buildings by a forecasted 13-23%. These conversations only happen when everyone is on the same page, working with the same data. Chicago is a test-case for what’s possible when different sectors and industries work together to tackle a common problem.

 

Gain A Competitive Advantage in Real Estate

With this added transparency, competition arises as well. Since tenants have access to the energy data of large-scale buildings, they can choose buildings with lower energy consumption (and, therefore, lower utility bills). Tenants are, on average, willing to pay 6-35% more on their leases in green buildings. For property managers and building owners, maintaining an energy efficient building will provide lower operating expenses, a better competitive advantage, and higher leases on the market.

 

Each jurisdiction has different policies, reporting requirements, deadlines, and penalties for failure to comply. See what’s required for buildings in your area and be sure to submit before the fast-approaching deadlines!

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