Making Buildings Part of the Climate Solution by Overcoming Information Gaps through Benchmarking
Brown, Marilyn A.
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This paper focuses on the impact of benchmarking the energy performance of U.S. commercial buildings by requiring utilities to submit energy data to a uniform database accessible to building owners and tenants. Understanding how a commercial building uses energy has many benefits; in particular, it helps building owners and tenants focus on poor-performing buildings and subsystems, and enables high-performing buildings to participate in various certification programs that can lead to higher occupancy rates, rents, and property values. Through analysis chiefly utilizing the Georgia Tech version of the National Energy Modeling System (GT-NEMS), updating input discount rates and the impact of benchmarking shows a reduction in energy consumption of 5.6% in 2035 relative to the Reference case projection of the Annual Energy Outlook 2011. It is estimated that the benefits of a national benchmarking policy would outweigh the costs, both to the private sector and society broadly. However, its geographical impact would vary substantially, with the South Atlantic and New England regions benefiting the most. By reducing the discount rates used to evaluate energy-efficiency investments, benchmarking would increase the purchase of energy-efficient equipment thereby reducing energy bills, CO2 emissions, and conventional air pollution.