For most properties that require residents to pay utilities, there's been a slow move towards energy benchmarking because, let's face it, if it's not saving you money, why invest in it?
Soon, there may be no question whether you measure your energy use or not. Last week, California became the first state to enact a law requiring commercial buildings to benchmark their energy use, which will also be expanded to include large multifamily properties.
A few cities have enacted similar ordinances over multifamily buildings, including Seattle, Boston, Cambridge, Mass., Austin, Chicago, Kansas City, Missouri, Austin, Atlanta, New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.
California first implemented its commercial benchmarking program in 2007, but it was never fully implemented or utilized. With the new law, it address the previous barriers to scores and utilities' ability to get building operators energy information.
However, it also requires energy benchmarking ratings be shared publicly on an annual basis. The hope is that the transparency will allow incentives to be directed to the properties' that most need it. It's also expected to encourage prospective tenants to find out how much their utility bills may actually be before moving in.
For affordable housing, the new information will also help accurately determine utility allowances to offset costs for subsidized housing residents.
This move comes after Gov. Brown's initial mandate to double statewide energy efficiency savings. According to the National Resources Defense Council, California's electricity bills are among the lowest in the country, largely due to its efficiency standards.