Energy benchmarking of commercial buildings: A low-cost pathway toward urban sustainability

Title: Energy benchmarking of commercial buildings: A low-cost pathway toward urban sustainability
Format: Journal Article
Publication Date: 2013
Published In: Environmental Research Letters
Description: US cities are beginning to experiment with a regulatory approach to address information failures in the real estate market by mandating the energy benchmarking of commercial buildings. Understanding how a commercial building uses energy has many benefits; for example, it helps building owners and tenants identify poor-performing buildings and subsystems and it enables high-performing buildings to achieve greater occupancy rates, rents, and property values. This paper estimates the possible impacts of a national energy benchmarking mandate through analysis chiefly utilizing the Georgia Tech version of the National Energy Modeling System (GT-NEMS). Correcting input discount rates results in a 4.0% reduction in projected energy consumption for seven major classes of equipment relative to the reference case forecast in 2020, rising to 8.7% in 2035. Thus, the official US energy forecasts appear to overestimate future energy consumption by underestimating investments in energy-efficient equipment. Further discount rate reductions spurred by benchmarking policies yield another 1.3-1.4% in energy savings in 2020, increasing to 2.2-2.4% in 2035. Benchmarking would increase the purchase of energy-efficient equipment, reducing energy bills, CO2 emissions, and conventional air pollution. Achieving comparable CO2 savings would require more than tripling existing US solar capacity. Our analysis suggests that nearly 90% of the energy saved by a national benchmarking policy would benefit metropolitan areas, and the policy's benefits would outweigh its costs, both to the private sector and society broadly. © 2013 IOP Publishing Ltd.
Ivan Allen College Contributors:
External Contributors: Matt Cox
Citation: Environmental Research Letters. 8. Issue 3. DOI 10.1088/1748-9326/8/3/035018.
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Information Programs
Related Departments:
  • Climate and Energy Policy Laboratory
  • School of Public Policy