Tracking a building’s energy use helps in understanding its energy efficiency and, in turn, reducing its energy consumption and costs. In Boston, energy reporting and disclosure is a key strategy for cutting costs for tenants and owners alike, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in line with the City’s 2020 targets.
Studies have shown that tracking energy use can help reduce building energy consumption and costs. Over 260,000 buildings – representing 40% of U.S. commercial floor space – use Portfolio Manager to track energy performance. Portfolio Manager was developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to allow building owners to track, compare, and understand their energy use. In 2012, EPA analyzed 35,000 buildings that had entered complete data for a four-year period, and found that, on average, the buildings that were tracking their consumption reduced energy use by 7%.
As a result, several U.S. cities have passed policies requiring large- and medium-sized buildings to track and report their energy use, with some form of disclosure. This includes New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Austin, Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, and Philadelphia. In addition, the states of Washington and California have passed statewide reporting and disclosure laws.
In Boston, buildings account for about two-thirds of total community greenhouse gas. Thus, building energy efficiency is a major component of Boston's plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2020, and the Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance is intended to boost building efficiency, cut energy costs, and encourage buildings to utilize incentives such as Renew Boston.
By requiring large- and medium-sized buildings to undergo energy reporting, the ordinance increases awareness of energy efficiency opportunities. Owners can understand how their building’s energy performance compares to that of similar buildings nationally, and, after public disclosure, to that of buildings in Boston. Owners of multiple buildings can also compare energy efficiency across their portfolio, and identify the buildings that are most in need of energy improvements. To help support these energy improvements, the City’s Renew Boston program provides Boston businesses and large condo and co-op associations with technical assistance and financial incentives for energy efficiency upgrades.
By providing information on energy performance, energy reporting and disclosure provides a way for tenants, prospective tenants and buyers, and owners to understand the energy efficiency of a building. Tenants and owners alike will have better information on energy efficiency when making decisions about renting or leasing space.