Energy Window Stickers and You

Aug. 29, 2011
Energy Window Stickers

Ah, September. Quiet streets with school open again, crisp days after a fiercely hot summer, the crack of football helmets. And in New York City, the public will have the opportunity to view the first posting of energy usage data for individual buildings — as required by law.

The requirement is an element of New York City’s Greener, Greater Buildings Plan. The first data scheduled for website release this month is for municipally owned or leased buildings totaling 10,000 square feet or more. The ante is upped in September 2012, when data for private nonresidential buildings over 50,000 square feet will be released, and again in September 2013, when multifamily buildings over 50,000 square feet have their turn.

Every year building owners are required to supply energy data for the previous year. The data for the city’s compliance report must be drawn from approved benchmarking tools, like EPA’s Portfolio Manager.

Not only building owners are affected. Tenants of nonresidential buildings must supply annual energy and space use data in order for owners to complete the compliance report.

When federal law in the 1970s required estimated fuel mileage to be included on the window sticker of every new car, the car-buying public was intrigued by its new ability to compare the performance of individual vehicles, even though mileage was not yet a major factor in a car purchase. Still, the availability of universal data created a huge and immediate increase in public awareness.

The federal government is not currently considering a law that would require buildings owners to supply energy data on individual buildings. No matter. This data will surge across the country, from state to state and city to city, as quickly as fall wildfires. Programs similar to New York City’s are in place or proposed in the states of California, Massachusetts, and Washington, and the cities of San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, and Austin, TX.

New York City’s fine for failing to file the energy compliance report is $500 – a small sum, especially in the world of energy bills. But the potential impact on building values and leasing rates will be wildly larger as the public becomes familiar with sticker information that it has never seen before.

Will the public and your clients see your building’s energy data as a benefit?

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