Benchmarking and Auditing Your Building's Energy Usage Understanding the New Energy Laws

 Little by little, the world seems to be getting greener. As part of Mayor  Michael R. Bloomberg’s Greener, Greater Buildings Plan, new legislation has been passed that among  many other measures, requires all of the city’s private buildings of over 50,000 square feet to obtain benchmarking and energy  audits by a certain deadline. That includes most co-op and condo buildings.  

 “These laws may seem ominous at first because there is a cost to having these  studies done,” says Kate Grossman, chief operating officer of New York City-based Greenwich  Energy Solutions, “but they were designed to give you information that allows you to make cost  effective choices and save money. None of the laws force you to do anything—and that’s important for people to understand. Once people see the savings possibilities,  they will just want to do these things.”  

 Benchmarking

 The first law, known as Local Law 84, requires a benchmarking system to be  implemented so that the energy and water usages of individual buildings may be  analyzed and compared. Water benchmarking will only be required if the building  was equipped with automatic meter reading equipment by the New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for the previous year. Owners  must report results to the city’s Department of Finance, using the Office of Long Term Planning and  Sustainability (OLTPS) format, and they must maintain records for three years.  According to the law, benchmarking results must be reported no later than May  1, 2011, and every year thereafter.  

 Anyone can perform a benchmark on their own by using the EPA’s Portfolio Manager or any complementary interface designated by the OLTPS.  Training on benchmarking is also being provided by the Association for Energy  Affordability in the Bronx from through the end of January 2011.  

 “Benchmarking is done as a comparison to similar types of buildings,” says Phil Vos of Manhattan-based energy consultant Bright Power’s business development and marketing group. “That comparison is what allows us to say this building can theoretically be  functioning X amount or more efficiently.”  

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