Thursday, January 6, 2011

Energy Performance Data Published for DC Public Buildings

On December 15, 2010, the District of Columbia published energy performance data for its municipal facilities on a publicly-accessible web site (http://green.dc.gov/green/cwp/view,a,1235,q,463711.asp). The Green Building Act of 2006 and the Clean and Affordable Energy Act of 2008 established the legislative requirements for the District to benchmark energy use in its public buildings 10,000 square feet or larger. The legislation also established private commercial building benchmarking requirements starting in 2010 with buildings over 200,000 square feet.
'
In fiscal year 2009 (October 8, 2008 - September 30, 2009), 194 public buildings in the District were benchmarked against EPA's ENERGY STAR benchmarking database. The results indicated that these public buildings performed "below average" compared to "similar" buildings nationwide. For office buildings specifically, the seven government buildings had energy use intensities (EUI) ranging from 212 - 490 kBtu/sq. ft., with three of the buildings performing above the national average (50% ranking) and none of the buildings in the top quartile.
'
The fundamental issue I have with drawing conclusions about comparative energy performance of District buildings is that the buildings are compared to "similar" buildings nationwide without any clear definition of what constitutes "similar." For example, the 2003 CBECS database is used by EPA for benchmarking. This database has less than 700 office buildings nationwide greater than 10,000 sq. ft. Moreover, the number of building characteristics collected to judge "similarity" is relatively sparse. Interestingly, the office building in the District with the highest ranking (just below the ENERGY STAR top quartile) received this ranking despite the fact that there were many "non-functioning" systems!
'
The real issue our industry faces is the legitimacy of the buildings being benchmarked against. Are they truly good "comps?" This is particularly important as the District expands its building energy use disclosure requirement to the private sector. There is too much at stake in the highly competitive commercial real estate industry to accept anything less than what is needed to provide legitimate comps for building energy performance benchmarking.

5 comments:

Brad Acker/ Team Rubicon said...

Well Tony, saying we need to be concerned about how many fish are in the comparable building pool is a good point however a office building using 212-490 kBtu/sq ft can only be called one thing: a massive energy pig (period). It does not matter what you compare it to. With regard to the sample size in CBECS it is my hope that as more and more states and cities require the use of Portfolio Manager (PM) maybe this can somehow expand the sample size for CBECS. It is unclear to me if CBECS looks at the data in PM, but it seems they should. Can you commnet on the CBECS/PM interaction?

Tony said...

Brad, many people believe that EPA's Portfolio Manager database of more than 120,000 buildings is used for benchmarking. Unfortunately, that is not the case. EPA relies on the relatively small CBECS database for its underlying ENERGY STAR benchmarking system. One of the problems with using the Portfolio Manager database is that there is no quality control on what is entered. For example, has the correct floor area been entered? The gross floor area is suppose to be entered; however, it is not unusual to find that the more readily available leasable floor area has actually been entered (which may make a significant difference in the EUI).

cameron.ware said...

Tony, I would like to at least suggest another blog for you. The national average for public schools is 75k BTU/sf per year. 50k BTU/sf per year is energy star. Today, several schools are up and running in Kentucky (Warren County) that are operating at 1/2 the enegy star rating. The consumption of these buildings in your post is staggering. If you want more information on these schools let me know. cameron.ware@futurestone.com Regards. Cameron

cameron.ware said...

Tony, I would like to at least suggest another blog for you. The national average for public schools is 75k BTU/sf per year. 50k BTU/sf per year is energy star. Today, several schools are up and running in Kentucky (Warren County) that are operating at 1/2 the enegy star rating. The consumption of these buildings in your post is staggering. If you want more information on these schools let me know. cameron.ware@futurestone.com Regards. Cameron

Tony said...

Cameron, I only quoted public office buildings in DC and the energy consumption is significant. You may want to contact DC directly with your information on schools in Kentucky (refer to the DC web site for contact information). Thanks. Tony