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Boulder Building Performance - Background

Boulder Building Performance - Background

The Value of Rating and Reporting and Energy Efficiency

Studies have shown that buildings that consistently benchmark energy performance save energy. See a recent analysis by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that shows benchmarked buildings saved an average of 7 percent in energy over three years.

In this fact sheet, the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT) highlights a range of benefits achieved from benchmarking policies.

View recent updates on commercial rating and reporting policies around the country.

Read about case studies of commercial buildings where implementing energy benchmarking using the EPA’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager resulted in energy savings.

Anticipated Boulder Benefits  

Commercial and industrial buildings are responsible for 51 percent of  Boulder’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions . Buildings that rate their energy performance typically attain an average energy savings of two to three percent per year. The estimated total GHG reduction anticipated as a result of these requirements is equivalent to taking more than 21,000 cars off the road every year. The estimated annual net benefit to the local economy is $8.5 to $14 million.

The city anticipates that the Boulder Building Performance Ordinance will generate significant long-term emissions and economic benefits for our community. In addition to these high-level community benefits, the city anticipates a number of direct benefits to commercial and industrial business owners and tenants:

  • Improving the quality of Boulder’s commercial building stock;
  • Saving money on utility bills through cost-effective efficiency measures;
  • Helping building owners understand and manage their buildings’ energy use;
  • Educating tenants and real estate professionals about building energy performance;
  • Informing future energy programs and services for the commercial and industrial sector; and
  • Marketing buildings in compliance as efficient and high-performing.

Watch this  video  to learn more about the benefits of rating and reporting.

National Context

Several cities and counties across the U.S. have adopted rating and reporting requirements, and many of these city policies also require energy assessments and/or efficiency upgrades.

US R&R Cities Map

In national news, on Sept. 11, 2015, the California legislature passed Assebly Bill 802, which authorizes the California Energy Commission to implement a comprehensive benchmarking policy — including both multifamily and commercial buildings — that will require building energy use to be reported publicly on a regular basis. AB 802 ensures commercial and multifamily building owners and operators will now have access to monthly whole-building energy usage information.

Further in national news, it was announced on April 21, 2015, by the American Council for an Energy–Efficient Economy (ACEEE), that the United States House of Representatives, followed by Congress, passed S 535, an energy efficiency bill that promotes commercial building energy use benchmarking and disclosure. This bill requires all federal agencies to benchmark and publicly disclose their energy use. The bill also commits to conducting a study on state and local benchmarking policies and procedures, best practices and shared databases.

Boulder History

A Brief History of Boulder’s Rating & Reporting and Energy Efficiency Journey

  • 1994 to present: PACE (Partners for a Clean Environment): A one-stop shop for businesses and building owners to get free technical assistance, resources and financial incentives to implement sustainability best practices (energy, waste, water and employee transportation options).
  • 2008 to 2012: 10 for Change: Voluntary business challenge and networking opportunities to implement energy saving measures and sustainability best practices, with over 100 members.
  • 2009 to 2010: Designed, piloted and partnered with Boulder County’s award of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Better Buildings Grant to implement EnergySmart countywide.
  • 2010: Adopted SmartRegs, the city’s energy efficiency requirements for licensed rental housing.
  • 2010 to present: Boulder started researching, evaluating, educating and providing services to rate commercial buildings’ performance.
  • 2011: Launched EnergySmart, a suite of energy efficiency services to create awareness and to provide technical assistance (advisor service) and incentives to implement cost-effective energy efficiency improvements.
  • More than 3,200 businesses and building owners served countywide.
  • 2012 to 2013: Boulder implemented and evaluated a Commercial Building Energy Rating & Reporting Pilot Program pdf.
  • 2014: Adopted the most stringent commercial energy code in the country – 30 percent better than the 2012 International Energy Conversation Code (IECC).
  • 2014 to 2015: Development of Boulder Building Performance Ordinance.

For additional history on the development of the Boulder Building Performance Ordinance, see below.

Public Engagement

City staff engaged building owners, property managers, commercial real estate brokers, and other stakeholders to gather feedback on proposed requirements and implementation strategy for the ordinance. The city conducted a broad stakeholder engagement process in three phases:

  • Phase 1 – Working Group (October 2014 to January 2015): Over four months, staff convened and facilitated a  working group of affected stakeholder (building owners, property managers, service providers, commercial brokers, etc) to help develop options for a commercial energy ordinance. This was an important process to identify aspects of the requirements that cause the most concern for the business community. Meeting summaries and presentations from the Commercial and Industrial Working Group are below.
  • Phase 2 – Broader Outreach to the Business Community (January to March 2015):  Following the working group completion, staff presented to a number of business groups in the community including:
    • Downtown Boulder Inc. -  Feb. 4, 2015
    • Boulder Tomorrow pdf- Feb. 25, 2015
    • The Boulder Group of the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) in Denver -  April 2, 2015
    • Boulder Chamber Community Affairs Council – April 9, 2015
    • Commercial Brokers of Boulder - April 13, 2015 
    • On March 4, 2015, staff discussed these options and recommendations with the Environmental Advisory Board. The city also hosted a one-hour Webinar pdf on March 18, 2015, for all affected building owners; this webinar was attended by approximately 55 participants and a recording
      was posted on the project website for future viewers.
  • Phase 3 – Specific Outreach Following May 12 Study Session (May to July 2015): Following the May Study Session, staff facilitated additional targeted outreach around two key issues: large industrial campuses and split incentives.
    • Large Industrial Campuses – Between the study session and first reading, staff has engaged with Boulder’s large industrial companies to discuss their unique situations and craft custom requirements.
    • Split Incentive Issues – Between the study session and first reading, staff reconnected with the Institute for Market Transformation and cities that have passed similar ordinances. Staff then held a focus group discussion with some of Boulder’s largest property owners and their tenants.

City staff also engaged with the Environmental Advisory Board (EAB), which reviewed the options presented to council at the May 12, 2015 study session and was supportive of staff’s recommendations. EAB also reviewed the materials for the ordinance on Aug. 5, 2015 and wrote a letter of support that was included in the first reading memo on Sept. 1, 2015.

Through this engagement, there was significant cooperation and dialogue with many owners, property managers, and service providers.

Council Actions

Based on stakeholder feedback and community engagement, staff presented Council with options for the proposed requirements at the May 12, 2015 study session. Based on council feedback, staff developed an ordinance for first reading to council on Sept. 1, 2015. At the Sept. 29, 2015 council meeting, a public hearing was held at second reading and Council adopted the second reading ordinance as proposed. A final third reading, and formal adoption, occurred on consent at the Oct. 20, 2015 council meeting. City Manager Rules are now published and include the implementation details for rating and reporting, energy assessments, retrocommissioning and lighting upgrades.

Pilot Program

This 2012 city-led pilot program explored the development of a standard procedure for rating the energy performance of existing commercial buildings using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, a free, online energy rating and reporting tool developed by the Environmental Protection Agency. The pilot demonstrated how participating building owners, tenants and the city can better understand energy use in existing commercial buildings and identify opportunities to save businesses and property owners money through energy efficiency upgrades. 

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