The number of buildings in Portfolio Manager reporting onsite renewable energy has increased nearly ten-fold in the past decade, now making up nearly 1% of all buildings benchmarking in the tool. They are spread around the country and found on a range of building types. K-12 school buildings and worship facilities have the highest concentration of onsite renewable energy, at 2.4% of such properties.
Fewer than 10% of buildings with onsite renewable energy systems use the energy generated to meet 75% or more of their total electricity need. In fact, the majority use onsite renewable energy to meet a quarter or less of their electricity needs. The proportion of an individual building’s electricity needs met with renewable energy generated onsite ranges from over 50% for warehouse/storage buildings to 7% for hospitals.
On average across all building types included in the data set, 60% retain their RECs to substantiate that the electricity they use is renewable. Only among retail stores and hospitals is it more common to sell than retain. The data indicates that many building owners and managers are interested in claiming the environmental benefits from their onsite renewable energy systems.
You can’t manage what you don’t measure
Development of renewable energy systems on commercial buildings has grown over the past decade, and this trend is expected to continue. Yet building owners and managers may not have reliable information about how much of the energy generated by these systems is being consumed by their buildings. This information is needed for energy benchmarking and other performance indicators to paint a true picture of a building’s efficiency and to guide decision-makers to the most cost-effective strategies for improvement.
Looking forward, deployment of meters that support accurate measurement of onsite renewable energy flows—and making that data available to customers—will help stakeholders—including building owners, utilities, and policymakers—invest in the right mix of strategies to achieve deep emissions reductions.