A Bid to ‘Shame’ Building Owners Into Energy Efficiency

Al Franken  at Senate Judiciary privacy subcommittee- top reps from Google and Apple as well as admin officials and industry leaders are set to testify on mobile-phone tracking on May 10, 2011.
National Journal
Alex Brown
Add to Briefcase
Alex Brown
Sept. 12, 2013, 3:24 p.m.

Can own­ers of big com­mer­cial build­ings be “shamed” in­to us­ing less en­ergy? At least one sen­at­or and a key fed­er­al agency think so, and just this week Chica­go joined a grow­ing list of cit­ies that are put­ting the the­ory to the test.

The concept is called en­ergy bench­mark­ing, and it re­quires own­ers of large build­ings to pub­licly dis­close their en­ergy con­sump­tion on a reg­u­lar basis. An or­din­ance passed by the Chica­go City Coun­cil on Wed­nes­day will re­quire an­nu­al re­ports on en­ergy us­age for all build­ings with more than 50,000 square feet of floor space.

“Good data drives mar­kets and in­nov­a­tion,” Chica­go May­or Rahm Emanuel said in a state­ment of sup­port for the new reg­u­la­tions. “[Bench­mark­ing] will ac­cel­er­ate Chica­go’s growth as a cap­it­al for green jobs by arm­ing build­ing own­ers, real es­tate com­pan­ies, en­ergy ser­vice com­pan­ies, and oth­ers with the in­form­a­tion they need to make smart, cost-sav­ing in­vest­ments.”

The Windy City isn’t the first to pass such a meas­ure: Eight cit­ies and two states, in­clud­ing Wash­ing­ton, D.C., have already ad­op­ted sim­il­ar pro­pos­als. D.C.’s bench­mark­ing man­date passed in 2008, and the first re­ports for build­ings ex­ceed­ing 100,000 square feet are due Oct. 1.

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., has offered an amend­ment to an en­ergy bill now be­ing con­sidered in the Sen­ate that would re­quire en­ergy bench­mark­ing for all fed­er­al build­ings.

“The main thing my amend­ment does is to re­quire that build­ing spaces that are leased by the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment meas­ure and re­port their en­ergy use,” Franken said in a floor state­ment Wed­nes­day. “The fed­er­al gov­ern­ment is the na­tion’s largest con­sumer of en­ergy. Tax­pay­ers are pay­ing for all of that en­ergy. We owe it to them to make sure our build­ings save as much en­ergy as pos­sible.”

En­ergy bench­mark­ing has also been cham­pioned by the En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion Agency, which of­fers En­ergy Star soft­ware to build­ing own­ers that en­ables them to track en­ergy use.

One build­ing-man­age­ment com­pany in Wash­ing­ton, Akridge, uses the EPA pro­gram, and the com­pany’s Sarah Pam­ula has some ad­vice for build­ing own­ers in Chica­go who will soon be re­quired to file re­ports. “They should start early,” Pam­ula said, say­ing it took her months cor­res­pond­ing with ten­ants to gath­er the re­quired three years of re­port­ing data. That got es­pe­cially com­plic­ated when leases had changed hands, she said.

An en­ergy-bench­mark­ing spe­cial­ist for the D.C. De­part­ment of the En­vir­on­ment, Mar­shall Duer-Bal­kind, said the ini­tial star­tup prob­lems are worth the pay­off. “People are say­ing, ‘This was really hard at first, but I’m find­ing great use in it and great util­ity.’”¦ It’s helped them in­crease their ef­fi­ciency and identi­fy prop­er­ties where they need to work.”

Not every­one in Chica­go is on board with the new re­quire­ments. Mi­chael Cor­ni­celli, ex­ec­ut­ive vice pres­id­ent of Chica­go’s Build­ing Own­ers and Man­agers As­so­ci­ation, said the pub­lic dis­clos­ure man­date “will un­fairly pen­al­ize and mar­gin­al­ize many older and his­tor­ic­ally sig­ni­fic­ant build­ings in Chica­go.”

Cor­ni­celli ad­ded: “Pub­lish­ing the scores for build­ings that simply can­not af­ford the work ne­ces­sary to raise [their scores] will not ‘shame’ those build­ings in­to achiev­ing high­er scores. It will simply im­pose yet an­oth­er com­pet­it­ive bur­den on an already chal­lenged sec­tor.”

But Franken main­tains that something has to be done to im­prove en­ergy ef­fi­ciency.

“In the United States, our en­ergy con­sump­tion is about one-fifth of the world’s total en­ergy con­sump­tion,” he said. “That’s re­mark­able when you con­sider that we have less than one-twen­ti­eth of the world’s pop­u­la­tion. But a tre­mend­ous amount of that en­ergy is simply lost through in­ef­fi­cient build­ings, ap­pli­ances, in­dus­tri­al pro­cesses, and cars. Those losses have been es­tim­ated to cost U.S. busi­nesses and house­holds $130 bil­lion each year.”

What We're Following See More »
FOR MISUSING CAMPAIGN MONEY
Rep. Duncan Hunter Indicted
4 hours ago
THE LATEST
HE WAS WORKING FOR TRUMP
Cohen Acted for Candidate in Violating Campaign Law
5 hours ago
THE LATEST

President Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen said he "was directed to violate campaign law at the direction of a candidate for federal office. At the same candidate’s direction, he said he paid $130,000 to somebody to keep them quiet, which was later repaid by the candidate. He didn’t identify the candidate or the person who was paid, but those facts match Cohen’s payment to Clifford and Trump’s repayment."

Source:
JURY DEADLOCKED ON TEN OTHERS
Manafort Guilty on Eight Counts
5 hours ago
THE LATEST

A jury has found former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort guilty [of] five counts of filing false tax returns, one count of not filing a required IRS form, and two bank fraud counts. ... The jury said it was deadlocked on the other 10. U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis declared a mistrial on those other charges."

Source:
DEADLOCK ON OTHER 10 CHARGES
Manafort Guilty on 8 Charges
5 hours ago
THE LATEST
CITES ANTI-SLAPP ACT
Judge Tosses Out Russians' Suit Against Steele
6 hours ago
THE LATEST

A D.C. judge "has tossed out a defamation lawsuit brought by three Russian oligarchs against former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele over his discussion of them in the dossier he prepared during the 2016 US presidential election campaign describing Donald Trump's links to Russia. The men — Petr Aven, Mikhail Fridman, and German Khan — are investors in Alfa Bank and had sued Steele and his company, Orbis Business Intelligence Limited, alleging that the dossier defamed them by linking them to Russian efforts regarding the presidential election." The judge cited D.C.'s anti-SLAPP act in his ruling.

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login