Is Energy Benchmarking Needed?

April 11, 2013

A new report questions the value of energy benchmarking laws, especially in terms of what they are meant to achieve.

Robert Stavins, an environmental economist at Harvard University, examined "whether mandatory benchmarking and auditing rules can achieve what they're meant to do."

Energy benchmarking has worked its way to the Midwest as a way to garner more data on buildings and disclose energy information from commercial buildings.

The study was funded by opponents of the recent ruling in Minneapolis, and found that while benchmarking rules "do not necessarily come with a pile of money to help inefficient buildings, the data coming from the disclosure could help utilities or other market players design more effective energy-efficiency programs to target the lowest-performing buildings."

While Stavins does not discredit benchmarking rules, he does question how much they can accomplish. Energy benchmarking is still in its early stages in the U.S. But from what we can see, from larger cities like New York, and Washington, D.C., "benchmarking has already allowed them to identify problematic sections of the municipal building sections of the municipal building stock and take actions – whether that's a full-fledged energy audit or simply changing the rules for how building managers monitor equipment."

And while benchmarking rules are not perfect, they do have an effect on market and behavior shifts that will put energy efficiency front and center.

Source: Green Tech Media


By Gaylen Davenport

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