Sustainability 101

Nationwide Energy News

Chicago introduces “pubic shaming” energy benchmarking laws

Starting next year, owners of buildings in Chicago larger than 50,000 square feet will be required to disclose energy use through EPA’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager benchmarking tool. Opponents have called this a kind of “public shaming” but evidence seems to show that benchmarking is working.

According to the EPA, energy use declined by 7% in the 35,000 buildings that used the Portfolio Manager tool to benchmark energy performance from 2008 to 2011. Currently, large buildings make up less than 1% of Chicago’s landscape but account for 22% of total energy consumption.

Chicago follows Boston, NYC, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Austin, Minneapolis, San Francisco and Seattle; and two states (California and Washington) in enacting benchmarking laws.  If you have buildings in Chicago, contact your Great Forest representative to see how this new law affects you.

Washington, D.C. enters 2nd year of benchmarking

Take note if you have buildings in D.C.  The District Department of the Environment (DDOE) will be publishing the results of public building benchmarking.  The first year of commercial disclosure (over 150,000 SF) coincides with the second year of District building reporting. By 2014, all District buildings over 50,000 square feet will fall under this requirement.

New York launches $1 billion Green Bank to transform energy system

Looking to encourage the growth of clean energy beyond the current incentive model, New York has launched a $1 billion Green Bank to fund clean energy projects.  The bank is expected to open for business in early 2014.  The fund is designed to lift typical barriers to financing onsite renewables and major reconstruction projects that meet certain efficiency requirements.  Clean onsite generation options are expected to grow as the market matures and the fund becomes self-sustaining.  Watch this space for more case studies in NY and beyond, featuring solar, energy storage and conversion projects in development.

NYC heads into accelerated compliance for Local Law 87

NYC LL87 (2009) compliance and resulting efficiency work is well underway with our covered 2013 client properties. See audit submittal forms here. While New York will likely have to wait a few more years to see the benefits from large scale efficiency efforts undertaken, hints of what is to come can be seen in a case study of San Francisco, which has had energy audits and benchmarking on the books since 2007.  Evaluation of the Air Quality Co-benefits of Local Greenhouse Gas Reduction Measures:  A Case Study of San Francisco”–may reveal actionable data for NYC and other municipalities. The table on page 62 in particular shows interesting details about air quality benefits in dollars per ton of GHG reduced. The benefit for commercial and residential loan programs, energy efficiency services and renewable goals averages $43/MTC02e (metric tons), second only to electric vehicle infrastructure at $53/metric ton.  We can expect to see as great or greater benefit to the NY region as has been tabulated in San Francisco from increased efficiency of the built environment. Contact your Great Forest representative for any questions about LL87 compliance.

Philadelphia’s best practices lab

Established in 2011 by the Department of Energy, Philadelphia’s Energy Efficient Buildings Hub is a multi-year research, development, and demonstration initiative focused on developing the means and methods to reduce energy use in commercial buildings by 20% by 2020. Currently two demonstration buildings (one retrofit and one new construction) are being created and are expected to be ready by spring 2014. Check the EEB Hub site for various useful resources and reports.

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