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Energy benchmarking means tracking a building’s energy and water use and using a standard metric to compare the building’s performance against past performance and to its peers nationwide. These comparisons have been shown to drive energy efficiency upgrades and increase occupancy rates and property values.
The Clean and Affordable Energy Act of 2008 (CAEA) requires that owners of all large private buildings (over 50,000 gross square feet) annually benchmark their energy and water efficiency and report the results to DDOE for public disclosure. The District government also must annually benchmark and disclose the energy and water efficiency of District government buildings over 10,000 gross square feet. Benchmarking is done using the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) free, industry-standard online tool, ENERGY STAR ® Portfolio Manager. Final regulations were published in January 2013.
The District of Columbia has enacted these requirements in order to increase the energy performance data available to owners and to the market, and drive efficiency improvements. Buildings are responsible for 75% of the District’s greenhouse gas emissions, and energy benchmarking is critical to improving building performance and helping make the District the healthiest, greenest, and most livable city in the nation.
About ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager
In order to streamline the process of benchmarking, the DDOE has chosen U.S. EPA’s free, industry-standard ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager tool as the standard software for benchmarking and reporting. Read about it at energystar.gov/benchmark
EPA’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager recently underwent a complete overhaul of its user interface. The new Portfolio Manager was launched on July 17, 2013, and is easier and more intuitive to use. Information on the upgrade is available at energystar.gov/pmupgrade.
On January 18, 2013, the District Department of the Environment published the final rulemaking for energy benchmarking of private buildings in the D.C. Register (60 DCR 367). The rulemaking is supported by multiple guidance documents, with technical details on what needs to be reported and how, including forms for requesting utility data, and instructions for the adjustments being made to the program for its initial year. The set of guidance documents also include several optional forms for requesting tenant that building owners and managers may find useful. You can download all the documents here.
Infographic by the Institute for Market Transformation
Now you know what benchmarking is and why it’s helpful. Next, find out whether the District’s benchmarking law affects you.