The benefits of building energy rating and disclosure far outweigh the negatives. Any opposition can almost be considered... well, you get the point...It’s amazing how one report, when branded with one of the biggest names in academia (Harvard) and funded by a well-heeled special interest opposition group (the Greater Boston Real Estate Board), can cause so much misinformation to be spread about Boston’s new building energy disclosure ordinance. Benchmarking and disclosure policies allow access to information that enables the market to value and respond to building energy performance. It’s the same concept as nutritional labels on food and MPG labels on vehicles, recognized around the world as important consumer protection and awareness measures. In this month’s Governing article, “Does Energy Benchmarking Actually Lead to More Efficient Buildings?,” the authors of the Harvard paper were quoted as concluding that there’s “no real evidence” that policies such as Boston’s ordinance result in “any changes whatsoever in energy use.” No changes, whatsoever? To quote Wallace Shawn in The Princess Bride, that’s “Inconceivable!” Let me provide you with a list of reputable sources suggesting exactly the opposite: Benchmarking leads to more energy efficiency improvements in buildings:
- A recent study by the U.S. EPA of more than 35,000 benchmarked buildings across the nation found that those buildings reduced energy consumption by an average of 7 percent over a three-year time span.
- A 2012 report commissioned by the California Public Utilities Commission found that benchmarking was highly correlated with building energy improvements and management actions, and was a strong catalyst for customer participation in utility rebate and incentive programs.
- A 2011 industry survey by Building Operating Management magazine, of hundreds of facilities managers found that 70 percent of respondents used benchmarking information to “guide energy efficiency upgrade plans,” and 67 percent used it to “help justify an energy efficiency project.
- A recent study by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Efficient Buildings Hub found that 77% of Philadelphia’s commercial building stock – or 7,000 buildings – need energy upgrades. Retrofitting them would generate more than $600 million in local spending and support 23,000 jobs.
- A recent survey of markets with existing benchmarking and disclosure laws found that local businesses were experiencing significant new demand for energy efficiency services and hiring new employees, driven by increased awareness on building energy efficiency opportunities.
- New research from England, and the most comprehensive of its kind to date according to that nation’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), suggests energy efficiency upgrades boost average home value by 14 percent.