ENERGY POLICY - August 17, 2018 - Roundtable Weekly

New ENERGY STAR Building Scores Available August 27   

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced this week that long-anticipated, updated ENERGY STAR scores that rate and compare U.S. buildings' energy performance will be available on Monday, August 27.  [EPA website]

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The EPA currently lists 34,226 commercial buildings and plants located in all 50 states as ENERGY STAR-labeled – representing 4.95 trillion square feet of space.

  • EPA currently lists 34,226 commercial buildings and plants located in all 50 states as ENERGY STAR-labeled – representing 4.95 billion square feet of space.  This number of "top of class" assets is expected to decrease, as average building "scores" will drop in light of updates to metrics in ENERGY STAR's Portfolio Manager energy usage benchmarking tool.   

  • For most types of buildings, an ENERGY STAR score (registered on a scale of 1 to 100) is based on the Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS), conducted periodically by the U.S. Department of Energy. The latest CBECS data, which forms the base for the new EPA scores, became available in 2016.  Prior to the update, for years ENERGY STAR scores have reflected data collected in 2003. 

  • EPA's move to update its building scores has been in the works for several years and has been a continual focus of The Roundtable's Sustainability Policy Advisory Committee (SPAC).  Many Roundtable member companies own and/or operate ENERGY STAR properties, and market their ratings to attract an increasingly Millennial-dominated workforce.  Pension funds and other institutional investors also rely on the label as a signal for well-managed assets with smaller carbon footprints.  
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    EPA's annual Top Cities list shows which metro areas were home to the most ENERGY STAR certified buildings in the previous year.



  • "We have to face the facts: ENERGY STAR building certification will likely be much harder to achieve," said Tony Malkin, Chairman and CEO of Empire State Realty Trust, and chairman of The Roundtable's SPAC.  "The U.S. commercial real estate industry has made huge strides, and those strides are reflected in the new data set about to be deployed by the EPA.  ENERGY STAR has always been a mark of highest achievement.  With more efficient buildings in the data set, there will be a reduction in the number of buildings which qualify on a relative basis."  

  • "There are new technologies and practices, as well as inducements, such as ENERGY STAR for Tenants on which RER worked hard to put in place, which justify capital investments in buildings to reach even higher levels of performance, encourage greater collaboration between commercial landlords and tenants, and create thousands of well-paying retrofit construction jobs that cannot be exported," Malkin continued.  (See Roundtable Weekly, June 15, 2018.)      

  • EPA reports that Portfolio Manager will be down on Sunday, August 26. New ENERGY STAR building scores, with updated Portfolio Manager metrics, will be available on Monday, August 27.  EPA encourages ENERGY STAR users to documents their current scores now – and their new scores starting August 27.  

EPA's recommendations for how to prepare for the upcoming changes and webinars about the new metrics are available online.

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