The US Department of Energy recently released two reports summarizing the positive impact of benchmarking and transparency policies that have become widely adopted across the country. While still in the early stages of adoption, the initial findings appear to be positive.
The first report, “DOE Benchmarking & Transparency Policy and Program Impact Evaluation Handbook,” outlines the strategies, methodologies and quantifying benchmarks for assessing this progress . The second report, “New York City Benchmarking and Transparency Policy Impact Evaluation Report” focuses on New York City’s efforts from 2010-2013, and references a cumulative reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 9.9% during those three years.
NYC has long touted the benefits of energy efficiency. The culmination of these efforts was seen by the passing of Local Law 84 (LL84) in 2009, which states that all buildings over 50,000 sq. ft. must benchmark their energy usage. This required privately owned commercial buildings to publicly file their energy usage online with energystar.gov. These filings created transparency, which led to awareness. Building owners and managers now possess instant feedback with regard to energy consumption.
It will be interesting to watch how far our society continues to push these efforts. As technology improves, and more buildings file their usage online, the data set will surely grow. It’s logical that this information will breed competition. Setting a goal to become the most efficient building on the block, as well as watching the rankings, could be a huge driver in behavioral changes. Small things like turning off the lights when leaving a room, lead to tremendous reductions in energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Imagine how eager building owners and managers would be to display an energy grade of “A” on their buildings similar to the way restaurants show their grades in windows today.