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Label Those Buildings!

Posted By Administration, Friday, May 11, 2012

Earlier this month the U.S. Department of Energy sponsored a webinar on their proposed voluntary national energy performance standard for commercial buildings. The goal of the Commercial Building Asset Rating Program (CBAR) is to assist the nation's building owners and managers in developing plans to improve commercial building energy efficiency. This would include evaluation of building envelope and major energy using equipment.

A voluntary program is an essential first step to eventually requiring energy ratings for all homes and other buildings. Unless we take this step, we are condemning all our existing building stock to underperforming in energy usage, thereby negatively impacting the country's economic and environmental performance.

While first adopted by Denmark and Australia, mandatory building energy ratings are an important part of an existing efficiency program throughout the European Union. This "time of sale” requirement insures that a buyer will be able to give preference to an energy efficient building. Many states and localities (Washington State, California, Massachusetts, Seattle and New York, have enacted laws) are actively considering adoption of similar requirements.

One might ask with LEED and Energy Star programs, is another rating system necessary? While it is unclear how this final CBAR program turns out, its premise goes beyond LEED, which focuses on sustainability, and Energy Star, which does not really rank building performance other to tell you if it is the top 25% of similarly located buildings.

It is time to label the energy performance of buildings. We do require performance labels for cars and appliances, so why not for these users of over forty percent of the nation's energy?

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