Roundtable Weekly
EPA Launching “ENERGY STAR Tenant Space” Process on October 13; CBECS Requests Stakeholder Feedback; House May Vote on Building Codes Bill Next Week
September 19, 2020

Energy Start Tenant Space Charter Tenant Award

Recognition for office tenants who collaborate with their landlords on design and construction of high performance leased spaces will be the focus of the voluntary ENERGY STAR Tenant Space program, scheduled to launch on October 13. 

  • The launch marks the second occasion that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will certify energy efficient office suites, following inaugural awards granted to “charter tenants” in 2018 and legislative authorization for the program from the so-called “Tenant Star” law passed by Congress in 2015. (Commercial Property Executive, May 4, 2015).
  • EPA’s application process, opening October 13, will require office tenants seeking certification to estimate their suites’ energy use, separately meter their spaces, use efficient office equipment, and share energy usage data with their landlords.  See EPA’s “How to Prepare for Tenant Space Recognition” guide.

  • EPA will also offer access to a new tool for estimating lighting energy usage intensity within the ENERGY STAR “Portfolio Manager” platform. Use of this new lighting assessment function will be a prerequisite for Tenant Space awards.  EPA has plans for on-line demonstrations in the coming weeks.

  • The ENERGY STAR label impacts nearly 35,000 buildings and plants nationwide, representing more than 5 billion square feet of commercial space. (ENERGY STAR Facts and Stats)   

Real Estate Stakeholders Requested to Provide Input on CBECS Process

EIA logo

  • The Roundtable requests that our members respond to a short questionnaire (6 questions) currently on the Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS) website.

  • An ENERGY STAR “whole building” score (registered on a scale of 1 to 100) is generally based on data from the Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS), conducted periodically by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).  EIA speakers have provided The Roundtable with information on CBECS data and its impact on ENERGY STAR scores for years.

  • The Roundtable estimates that EPA will next update its ENERGY STAR building scoring methods sometime around 2023, based on CBECS data collected in 2018-2019.  However, that data is pre-COVID.  It does not reflect the likely changes that have taken place in building occupancy and energy use since the pandemic struck in 2020.

  • Answers to the current CBECS questionnaire may have a significant impact in EIA’s data collection efforts regarding the U.S. buildings.  It is crucial that EIA capture data from all types and sizes of buildings – such as larger buildings over 500K square feet that have historically been under-represented in past surveys.

  • RER members responding to the CBECS questionnaire should also explain that EIA’s data collection should account for possible changes in building occupancy, energy consumption, ventilation protocols, and HVAC equipment since the COVID-19 pandemic started.  

House May Vote on Energy Bill Next Week

U.S. Capitol

Issues regarding CBECS data are also part of legislation reintroduced by House Democrats on September 15, The Clean Economy and Jobs Innovation Act (H.R. 4447).  The omnibus bill includes sections on building energy codes, grant programs for underserved communities and green infrastructure.  The bill may come to a vote in the House next week.

  • The bill includes a section, strongly supported by The Roundtable, which would direct EPA and EIA to enter into an “information sharing agreement.”  Such an agreement would direct the agencies to publicly and systematically address the relationship between CBECS data and ENERGY STAR buildings scores, as discussed above.

  • The bill also includes provisions, long-supported by The Roundtable, that would bring greater transparency to the process by which the U.S. Department of Energy provides federal recommendations to develop building energy codes that state and local governments may ultimately adopt. (Roundtable Weekly, June 19, 2019)

  • One of the major goals of the comprehensive, nearly 900-page legislative package is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 80% by 2050.  (BGov, Sept. 16)

In the Senate, Energy and Natural Resources Chair Lisa Murkowski (R-AL) is working to reintroduce energy reform legislation, but has once again run into delays due to long-standing objections over housing affordability issues.  (E&E News, Sept 17)

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