Blog: Building Performance Policy Brief

Every six months, we'll be adding a new post with the latest updates on building performance policies and trends around the country—focusing on what building owners and service providers need to know. 


Policy Brief: June 2022

In this first issue, we’re providing background and highlighting recently passed building performance policies affecting existing U.S. commercial and multifamily buildings, as well as describing how EPA works with state and local governments on policy design and implementation.

Building Performance Policy: A Short History

Since California and Washington, D.C. enacted the nation’s first benchmarking and disclosure laws back in 2007-2008, more than 40 jurisdictions have followed suit. So far, every one of these laws uses EPA’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager® as the compliance mechanism.

More recent laws include building performance standards (BPS), which require buildings to reach prescribed levels of energy performance or GHG emissions by specific deadlines.

Thanks to 30 years of experience working with building owners and managers—and because we manage the tool on which all these laws depend—EPA is able to help local and state governments minimize complexity and inconsistency in their BPS laws. This, in turn, reduces burden on building owners and managers so they can focus on improving building performance and reducing GHG emissions.

Recent Building Performance Policies

Now that we’ve caught you up on the history, here’s a summary of jurisdictions that have passed building performance policies in the past 18 months:

Jurisdiction

Policy Type

Coverage at Full Maturity

Ann Arbor, MI

Benchmarking & Disclosure

Commercial & multifamily > 20k ft2

Aspen, CO

Benchmarking & Disclosure and BPS

Commercial > 5k ft2, multifamily > 15k ft2

Bloomington, MN

Benchmarking & Disclosure

Commercial & multifamily > 75k ft2

Boston, MA*

BPS

Commercial & multifamily > 20k ft2

Chula Vista, CA

Benchmarking & Disclosure and BPS

Commercial & multifamily > 20k ft2

Colorado

Benchmarking & Disclosure and BPS

Commercial & multifamily > 50k ft2

Denver, CO*

BPS

Commercial & multifamily > 25k ft2

Indianapolis, IN

Benchmarking & Disclosure

Commercial & multifamily > 50k ft2

Maryland

Benchmarking and BPS

Commercial & multifamily > 35k ft2

Miami, FL

Benchmarking & Disclosure and Mandatory Retuning

Commercial & multifamily > 20k ft2

Montgomery County, MD*

BPS

Commercial & multifamily > 25k ft2

*Jurisdiction has an existing Benchmarking & Disclosure requirement.

BPS in Action: Denver’s Building Performance Policy

Denver skyline

Denver is one of the latest jurisdictions to pass a BPS. The law includes three sections:

  1. Benchmarking (buildings > 25k ft2)
  2. Performance standards (buildings > 5k ft2)
    • Requires existing buildings to meet specific energy use standards by 2030, with interim targets in 2024 and 2027. The standards differ by building type, with final performance standards of 48.3 kBtu/ft2 for offices and 44.2 kBtu/ft2 for multifamily housing, measured in weather-normalized site energy use intensity (EUI). Existing buildings between 5,000 and 24,999 ft2 that can’t meet this target have prescriptive requirements focused on LED lighting, installing solar panels, or purchasing offsite solar.
  3. Electrification at time of equipment replacement (applies to all buildings)
    • Requires buildings to electrify space heating and water heating at the time of equipment replacement when an electric solution is near cost parity with a like-for-like gas system. Phases in between 2023 and 2027.

For more information, visit Energize Denver.

How EPA Works With State and Local Governments

EPA provides guidance and tools to help state and local governments develop effective, consistent policies that reflect the business realities faced by building owners. Here are a couple of the ways we’ve done that recently:

  1. We published a formal recommendation that state and local BPS use Site Energy Use Intensity (EUI) as their primary metric, and that Site EUI be normalized where appropriate to reflect differences in business activity. For BPS encouraging electrification, we recommend using a secondary direct emissions metric or the use of a fossil fuel phaseout schedule.  The recommendations were developed after extensive analysis and input from dozens of policymakers, building owners, and other stakeholders.
  2. We developed sample language that state and local governments can use to require their utilities to provide aggregated data to building owners to facilitate benchmarking and BPS compliance (five jurisdictions—California, Washington, Colorado, Maryland, and the District of Columbia—have already done so). State-level requirements can provide clear direction to utilities to ensure that the right data is delivered at the right interval to the right buildings, while offering a way for utilities to recover related  costs.

Learn more about how EPA’s resources support effective building performance policies.