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 »
APPEALS COURT RULED TRUMP EXCEEDED HIS AUTHORITY
Supreme Court Takes Up Trump Travel Ban
9 hours ago
THE LATEST

The Supreme Court announced "that it would consider a challenge to President Trump’s latest effort to limit travel from countries said to pose a threat to the nation’s security." The case concerns Trump's most recent attempt to make good on a campaign promise "tainted by religious animus" and only questionably justified by national security concerns. The decision to take the case, called Trump v. Hawaii, comes almost exactly a year after Trump issued the first travel ban. The ban under consideration affects Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad and North Korea.

Source:
FACES STIFF OPPOSITION FROM BOTH PARTIES
Trump Proposes 95 Percent Cut To Office of Drug Control Budget
11 hours ago
THE LATEST

Trump wants to move the two grants, the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas grant and the Drug Free Communities Act, to the Justice and Health and Human Services departments, respectively. This would result in a $300 million plus reduction in funding, about 95 percent of the cost of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. "'I’m baffled at the idea of cutting the office or reducing it significantly and taking away its programs in the middle of an epidemic,'" said Regina LaBelle, who served as ONDCP chief of staff during the Obama administration. This is the second time the Trump Administration has proposed gutting the agency.

Source:
HOPES A DEAL CAN GET DONE
Schumer Meeting with Trump for Last-Ditch Meeting
12 hours ago
THE LATEST
BY SCALISE
House Told to “Stay Flexible”
14 hours ago
THE DETAILS
ALREADY PASSED CR, MCCARTHY SAYS
House Is Heading Home
14 hours ago
THE LATEST
×
×

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