The 4 Ws of Building Energy Compliance Programs

Allison Schweizer

The 4 Ws of Building Energy Compliance Programs

Park Avenue, New York City44% of states in America have Building Compliance Programs. Cities such as New York, Boston, Chicago, and more continue to introduce building energy compliance programs, and building owners and managers need to be aware of the associated requirements and deadlines. Failure to comply may result in significant financial penalties and/or operational impacts. The growing demand by local governments for low energy consuming buildings is leading to mandates for better building energy efficiency performance. Government entities now mandate benchmarking and disclosure of building energy data for certain commercial, public, institutional, and multifamily buildings. Below, discover the 4 W’s of Building Compliance Programs – the what, where, why and who.

What are Building Energy Compliance Programs?

Shot of a group of colleagues brainstorming together with sticky notes in an officehttp:// energy compliance programs are set by county, city, or state governments that mandate building owners and managers to benchmark and disclose their building’s energy consumption, water consumption, and/or greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. These programs have varying requirements and differ in severity from one locale to the next. More and more county, city, and state governments across the United States are requiring benchmarking and disclosure for public, commercial, and other non-residential buildings in their jurisdiction.

Key Points of Building Energy Compliance Programs:

• Compliance programs enable localities to track and summarize building metrics in their jurisdiction.

• Benchmarking requires property owners or managers to submit, usually on an annual basis, month by month cost and usage of energy data and water data for a full calendar year, or the most recent 12 months.

• Online platforms, such as the EPA’s Portfolio Manager, are used to house benchmarking data that is used to generate performance reports for disclosure.

• Energy use intensity (EUI) score allows the comparison of a building’s energy performance against buildings of the same type, expressed as energy per square foot per year.

Where are these programs?

Currently, 19 region-specific ordinances are mandating benchmarking and disclosure of affected building types depending on the minimum square footage of the building. An additional 16 cities and state governments require public-sector buildings to undertake ongoing energy benchmarking, but do not have specific annual reporting cycle or associated penalties. Each program has specific requirements such as type of building (square footage and building type), type of data to benchmark, type of data to disclose, types of compliance reports to generate, and additional actions that need to be taken such as third party data verification, energy audits and retro-commissioning measures. More and more localities are enacting building energy compliance programs every day.

Below is a map illustrating the types of programs located in each city/state:


Which building types are affected?

The following building types are affected by the various energy and resource benchmarking and disclosure mandates throughout the country: public/government buildings (those owned by the city or state), non-residential buildings (those used for commercial purposes and/or industrial manufacturing purposes), and multi-family buildings (those designed to have separate residential units). Benchmarking and disclosure exemptions within the building types exist, depending on the locality. Exemptions exist for industrial/manufacturing facilities in certain localities, buildings of new construction, buildings with less than 50% physical occupancy, and high performance buildings in many localities.

Modern Office Architecture

Why are localities enacting these programs?

County, city, and state governments are enacting these compliance mandates due to several reasons:

• To meet internal sustainability goals,

• To reduce energy and water consumption – thus saving money,

• To participate in mandated environmental initiatives (federal and local); and,

• To increase energy efficiency through projects that supports the local economy.

Buildings consume an average of 40% of all energy within a municipality. In order to meet the county, city, or state government’s aggressive sustainability targets, mandating the disclosure of the energy consumption, water consumption, and/or GHG consumption will provide building owners, energy providers, and other key stakeholders with the necessary tools to reduce the carbon footprint.

Information from benchmarking and disclosure gives key stakeholders the right information to make decisions and take action on cost-saving investments as well as enabling better management of the property and enables government officials to learn a significant amount about their localities building make up. Governments can be more strategic about setting priorities and allocating resources to achieve sustainability targets.

Let’s take Boston, MA for example. Under the city’s Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance, a non-compliant grocery store chain with 20 stores in Boston could face penalties of $200 a day per store, resulting in the following fines:

  • 3 days: $12,000
  • 1 week: $28,000
  • 1 month: $120,000

So, fines can increase rather rapidly. And this changes from city to city. To learn more about the consequences of non-compliance to Building Energy Compliance Programs, stakeholders affected, steps to comply and how Schneider Electric can help you, download our whitepaper today.


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