Thursday, March 8, 2012

CBECS Funding Restored

In my September 27, 2011 blog, I stressed that the commercial real estate industry urgently needs the Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS) to be funded. If you recall, on April 28, 2011, DOE announced that due to budget cuts, work on the 2011 CBECS was suspended. They also announced that they would not be releasing the 2007 CBECS results. This meant that the industry had no choice but to rely on the last published survey in 2003, an information baseline that is almost ten years old. There is no question that much has happened with building energy use since the 2003 survey. To use data this old in benchmarking can only call into question any conclusions drawn. The industry not only needs CBECS, but needs it to be expanded to include many more buildings.

I am happy to report that in late December, Congress restored $10 million of the funds trimmed in April of last year from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the analysis arm of the Department of Energy and responsible for the CBECS. The result was that in January, EIA resumed the CBECS program. EIA plans to sample more than 8,400 buildings in the next CBECS, more than double the number sampled in 2003. Although they are increasing the sample size, it is still well below the size needed to produce statistically sound data with the highest level of confidence for all types of buildings encountered in the commercial real estate industry. But at least it is a step in the right direction! EIA plans to publish the results in 2014. Unfortunately, until then, the industry must continue to rely on the outdated results published in 2003.

We as an industry need CBECS to continue and be expanded to include many more properties in each commercial real estate property type category. Too much is at stake in this highly competitive marketplace to rely on anything but absolutely unassailable data for benchmarking.

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