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Building performance requirements are coming: Are you ready?

Building performance requirements are coming: Are you ready?


By Adam Herzer | Paladino | April 26, 2021

Building performance requirements are policies that establish a definition for high-performance buildings and drive all buildings to achieve that definition, making clear the city or county’s priorities. A building performance requirement provides flexibility because owners can use whatever technologies and operational strategies they decide are most effective and economical to meet the performance target.

Montgomery County has a stated goal to reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 80% by 2027 and to achieve Net Zero GHG by 2035. Like many counties, the approach in Montgomery County will lean heavily on the performance of existing buildings and requirements for new construction. Benchmarking performance and the associated rewards and penalties for performance are increasingly used to curb energy consumption of existing buildings. You can learn about the Montgomery County BEPS program here.

Building Performance Requirements are trending nationwide and are likely coming to a county near you. This post explores the steps that building owners and operators need to take to prepare and perform. So how can building operators prepare for future building performance standards requirements?

The truth is that there is no single step that an owner can take to achieve the performance required to curb climate change and comply with regulations. The solution requires a 360-degree perspective on real estate, addressing strategies at the portfolio and building levels, considering both new construction and existing buildings.

The strategy must include diverse yet complementary disciplines, so real estate owners and operators can have a rich understanding of the issue and the options available to meet performance requirements when the time comes.

These are four recommendations to prepare existing buildings for future building performance requirements.

1. Analyze and review current building data. Collect design and operating data to baseline the building’s performance now. This includes a site walkthrough to determine the installed and operating conditions.

2. Start documenting and benchmarking now to determine where you stand. Collect a minimum of 15 months of utility data to enter into a benchmarking platform like ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. This will provide a clear comparison between your building’s performance and similar buildings.

3. Right-size your energy audits. Analytical data from benchmarking will indicate what level of effort is needed to effectively improve energy performance. The energy audit (Type I, II, or III) should be scaled up or down to meet regulatory and owner goals to increase energy performance and reduce climate impact. You can learn more about the types of typical energy audits here.

4. Invest in ongoing commissioning. To ensure that performance goals are maintained you should plan on having a backcheck like ongoing commissioning, which ensures that performance standards meet performance goals. We’ve explained the different types of building commissioning here.

Each county or city will have its own metrics for its building performance requirements. Once you learn if your requirements are based on ENERGY STAR scores, EUI, GHG equivalent, or another metric, you can begin tracking performance, training building staff, and planning for performance improvements.

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