Why Benchmarking? NRDC’s Maria Stamas Lays Out Benefits

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With the coming implementation of AB 802, building owners will have more access to whole building energy use data to inform actions that can be taken to save energy and money, and contribute to state and local climate and sustainability goals. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)’s Maria Stamas describes these benefits in a recent post:

If the California Energy Commission adopts the right programmatic details, here are some of the many benefits we can expect:

  • Transforming the Real Estate and Rental Markets to Appropriately Value Energy Efficient Buildings
    • Increasing the transparency of buildings’ energy usage (and corresponding utility bills), empowers renters and buyers to select more efficient buildings. This further increases building occupancy rates and real estate values.
  • Increasing Energy Awareness and Engagement, and More Jobs
    • Benchmarking requirements can draw owners’ attention to energy efficiency, resulting in behavioral and operational changes that bring immediate and low-cost energy reductions.
    • With increased engagement, large-scale benchmarking programs can spur the creation of green jobs, including trained workers for energy audits, retro-commissioning of base building systems (identifying less than optimal performance of a facility’s equipment), and installation of upgraded systems and equipment.
  • Spending Public Funds Responsibly; Directing Efficiency Incentives to Buildings that Need It Most
    • With public benchmarking information, utilities, local governments, government agencies, clean energy companies and others can best direct limited public funding to the most inefficient buildings. Currently these groups lack sufficiently robust comparative metrics (this includes utilities that lack data on building characteristics such as square footage).
    • Over time, research analyses can be conducted with the collected data to identify whether specific policy interventions resulted in actual energy reductions.
  • Increased Investments in Building Retrofits that Lead to Improved Comfort and Lower Utility Bills
    • If done well, benchmarking programs can lead to actionable changes in building equipment, operations, and consumption–which in turn reduce energy usage, lower utility bills, and improve the comfort of residents’ living environments.
    • Some proven methods to create actionable changes include: releasing benchmarking results in a number of different formats, such as through data visualization websites, and sending tailored building performance scorecards that link owners to available clean energy programs.

We’re already seeing the market respond to the value of energy efficiency. Updates on the CEC’s implementation of the energy disclosure requirements of AB 802, and the CPUC’s findings on applicable energy baselines to use to determine metering-based incentives, will be available this spring on this website (check out the News and Updates roll, or search the site for energy disclosure and energy baselines).

 

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