By Grey Lee
by Chris Liston
As the debate continues over Boston’s proposed energy disclosure ordinance, it has understandably shifted attention to those cities and states that have already enacted similar legislation.
To date, energy disclosure laws have been approved by lawmakers in Austin, California, the District of Columbia, Minneapolis, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington. Lawmakers in Boston, Boulder, Cambridge, Chicago and Portland have expressed interest in energy disclosure legislation, but have not yet formalized their programs.
Three commonalities in these laws are 1) the use of ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager as a benchmarking tool 2) a focus on large buildings and 3) mandatory reporting with fines and/or penalties for those buildings that fail to disclose their data. The definition of a “large” building differs by jurisdiction, but generally speaking the laws are focused on buildings with a minimum size of 10,000 SF to 50,000 SF.
Like the proposed Boston ordinance, most local energy disclosure laws have been phased in over a period of time. The District of Columbia’s program was introduced in 2008; but per the District’s timeline, the only buildings to have their data disclosed have thus far been District-owned buildings. New York City’s program was introduced in 2009 and energy data for NYC-owned buildings was first published in 2011, while energy data for privately-owned NYC buildings was first published in 2012. Philadelphia’s law was just passed in 2012 and no energy data has yet been submitted or published.
The 2011 New York City Benchmarking Report, published in August 2012, was a groundbreaking study of private sector energy use spanning 1.7 billion square feet of space. The report found that energy use varies widely within the same category of building type. For example, the least efficient NYC hotels use 3.2x as much energy as the most efficient NYC hotels. Meanwhile, the least efficient NYC office buildings use 4.5x as much energy as the most efficient NYC office buildings and the least efficient NYC retail buildings use 7.9x as much energy as the most efficient NYC retail buildings. In addition to the PDF report, NYC also released an Excel spreadsheet containing the name, address, energy utilization index, carbon emissions and ENERGY STAR rating for more than 4,000 privately-owned buildings.
You can download CBRE’s US guide to energy efficiency disclosure requirements at