The City of San Diego has adopted Assembly Bill (AB) 802, requiring property owners and operators of commercial, multifamily and mixed-use properties greater than 50,000 sq. ft. (and for multifamily and mixed-used properties with more than 17 units) to report energy usage.
The City of San Diego Climate Action Plan (CAP) calls for creating more energy-efficient buildings and ordinances to conserve and disclose energy use. In pursuing its CAP goals, the city is planning a potential benchmarking ordinance for commercial, multifamily and mixed-use properties. The City is in process of soliciting public input on the provisions of a potential ordinance.
What is Benchmarking?
Benchmarking is the process of measuring your building’s energy consumption and comparing it against past performance and to other similar buildings. To conduct benchmarking, most building owners and operators use ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager®, a free interactive software platform.
How is Benchmarking Being Addressed in California?
California adopted Assembly Bill (AB) 802 in 2015 that requires owners and operators of all commercial, multifamily and mixed-use properties greater than 50,000 square feet (and for multifamily and mixed-used properties with more than 17 units) to benchmark and publicly disclose building energy usage to the California Energy Commission. Additionally, AB 802 includes provisions for building owners and operators to obtain whole-building energy usage information directly from utilities, providing certain aggregation thresholds are met. The data access provisions ensure building owners can access the data they need to properly benchmark their building’s total consumption.
Why Does San Diego Want an Ordinance?
A local ordinance would allow the city to prepare for the implementation of the state law and to extend the state law to access additional critical energy consumption data. The measure also would allow city staff to foster relationships with more building owners. Finally, city staff would be able to provide building owners with local trainings, outreach and education to ensure that benchmarking data received from business owners is accurate and complete.
A local benchmarking ordinance is in line with San Diego’s desire to maintain a leadership role in clean energy. Other local California jurisdictions, including San Francisco, Berkeley and Los Angeles, also have benchmarking policies in effect to support local climate action plan goals. The City of San Diego sees a local ordinance as an additional means to support GHG reductions and achieve its CAP goals.
Why Focus on Buildings?
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, approximately 40 percent of total U.S. energy consumption in 2016 was used by the residential and commercial sectors, most of it related to operating buildings.
Benchmarking is considered a best practice and is the first step to understanding how a building operates and what opportunities exist for improvement. In fact, many local and state jurisdictions nationwide have already passed building benchmarking policies. Most jurisdictions that have passed policies have done so in pursuit of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions savings potential in existing buildings. A recent study found that most benchmarking policies report 3‒8 percent energy reductions within two to four years of implementation.
Do Local Ordinances Benefit Building Owners?
Specific benefits of a local benchmarking ordinance for building owners include:
- Additional locally focused resources to assist building owners in benchmarking.
- Access to more targeted and actionable information related to benchmarking and energy efficiency retrofits.
- Identification of new market opportunities and growth potential for energy efficiency retrofits.
- Reveals new information about a building’s performance to consider when buying or leasing a property.
- Opportunity for energy building owners to distinguish themselves in the marketplace.
What Are the Next Steps for the City?
The City of San Diego wants to conduct a transparent process in pursuing a potential benchmarking ordinance by engaging the local community in its development. To effectively engage a wide array of stakeholders in this issue, the city will provide the public an opportunity to voice their input regarding the ordinance.