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Local and state building energy performance standards aim to curb climate change

Codes and Standards

Local and state building energy performance standards aim to curb climate change

Owners must up the ante on operations and retrofits.

By Peter Fabris, Contributing Editor | June 28, 2021

State and municipal building standards aimed at driving building energy performance and reducing carbon emissions have teeth and will force building owners to retrofit their properties.

Three U.S. cities (Washington D.C., New York, and St. Louis) and Washington State have legislation on the books that created building performance standards. These policies include continuous improvement, with the standards getting increasingly more stringent over time.

In New York, the performance standard is a carbon emissions limit that begins in 2024. Building owners in New York face fines if they do not reach that limit by 2024.

In Washington D.C., the performance standard revolves around energy efficiency improvement, with the 2021 standard set at the local median Energy Star Score by property type. If the building does not meet the standard, it enters a five-year compliance cycle in which the building must reduce its energy intensity by 20%. The D.C. standards will be recalculated every six years.

Facility managers at any location could check where their building would fall under Washington D.C.’s standards or New York’s carbon limits to gauge how well the building is performing, and how much improvement might be required. Making improvements better positions the building to meet future standards while saving money on energy spending.

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