Building Energy Performance Policy
The building sector is the single largest user of energy in the United States, accounting for roughly 40 percent of total energy consumption, more than industry or transportation. Each year, we spend over $400 billion on energy for our buildings.
Many buildings were constructed before modern energy codes were in place, and as a result, they use more energy than they need to. Their owners may be deterred from upgrading them by a lack of information, misaligned financial incentives, or insufficient capital. If we can remove such barriers, we can save money for consumers and businesses; fuel economic growth; and reduce carbon pollution, safeguarding our health and the environment.
IMT promotes diverse market-based public policies and voluntary programs that can significantly cut energy waste and boost buildings’ efficiency. The measures we recommend range from measuring energy use (benchmarking) and performing an energy audit (a “physical” for a building) to adopting energy-efficient lease terms and certifying building operators. IMT helps cities and states select the right mix of policies and programs that are likely to succeed in their local market. To learn more about our work with cities, see the Policy Advocacy and Consulting page.
Benchmarking and Transparency
The core energy efficiency policy that IMT supports is the benchmarking and transparency of buildings’ energy use. Benchmarking means measuring a building’s energy use and then comparing it to the average for similar buildings. It allows owners and occupants to understand their building’s relative energy performance, and helps identify opportunities to cut energy waste.
A recent analysis by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency showed that buildings that are benchmarked save on average 7 percent in energy over three years.
- Energy benchmarking case studies: See buildings in Seattle, Philadelphia, and Washington that saved money and energy through benchmarking.
Fourteen cities, two states, and one county in the U.S. have passed policies requiring benchmarking and transparency for large buildings. These policies will soon affect almost 5 billion square feet of floor space in major real estate markets—making them powerful catalysts for energy efficiency in the built environment. All cities and states that require benchmarking call for the use of ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, a free, online software tool created by the U.S. EPA.
In this two-page fact sheet, IMT highlights a range of these benefits, from increased competition and market choice to job creation and energy and cost savings. We also explore how this growing pool of data is allowing government agencies, utilities, and building owners to make more cost-effective and smarter business decisions.
Current regulations vary in terms of the types and sizes of buildings they affect and the forms of transparency they require. To learn more about individual policies, consult the policy briefs on our sister website BuildingRating.org:
- District of Columbia
- Austin, Texas
- Washington State
- New York City
- San Francisco
- Montgomery County, Md.
- Cambridge, Ma.
- Berkeley, Calif.
- Portland, Ore.
- Kansas City, Mo.
- Boulder, Colo.
IMT offers expert assistance to city and state governments as they craft, adopt, and implement benchmarking and transparency and other building energy performance policies.
Fifteen cities, two states, and one county have adopted energy benchmarking and transparency laws. While all of them require building owners to track their properties' energy use, the laws vary regarding the size and type of buildings they affect; whether the energy use data must be disclosed publicly, or just to potential tenants or buyers; and other factors. View the policy map and policy comparison tool on our website BuildingRating.org to see what's required.
Examine the benefits
In this two-page fact sheet, IMT highlights a range of benefits offered from energy benchmarking and transparency, from increased competition and market choice to job creation and energy and cost savings. We also explore how this growing pool of data is allowing government agencies, utilities, and building owners to make more cost-effective and smarter business decisions.
Click here to download a PDF of the fact sheet, which includes embedded links to source material for further information.