ENERGY STAR to the Rescue

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Gary Graham
Energy and Sustainability Services

There are plenty of reasons to participate in ENERGY STAR and pursue a label at buildings you own or manage. But for those stubborn folks who aren’t sold yet, here’s another reason, courtesy of the cities of San Francisco and New York.

First, some quick background: Last week, the mayor of San Francisco enacted the Existing Commercial Buildings Energy Performance Ordinance, mandating energy efficiency audits in commercial buildings every three years. When an auditor finds a way to improve efficiency, the owner is required to make the improvement as long as the payback is expected to be less than five years. 

New York City passed a similar law about a year ago, and mandatory audits are under consideration in at least two state governments. If you’re an owner, you may not want to hear that the trend is growing—but it is.

And that’s where ENERGY STAR comes in. Both the San Francisco and New York laws exempt buildings that have gained ENERGY STAR labels in multiple years—three of the past five years for SF, two of the past three years for NYC.  The new law also requires public disclosure of ENERGY STAR scores, which are already required by a California law that requires disclosure on a more limited basis.

So maybe that’s two reasons to go after a label: One, because everyone can see your score, and two, to avoid an audit that may require you to make expensive improvements.

What if you own property in another city? It’s still a good idea to know your ENERGY STAR rating and act on the knowledge.  Every building we manage for investors participates in Portfolio Manager, and buildings in the program longer tend to have higher scores. With any luck, you’ll have that label before mandatory audits come to your town.


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