As energy-efficiency efforts across the country grow, so do official energy-efficiency requirements in individual cities. The new year was no exception for changes to energy mandates, with 3 notable changes to large city regulations:

Washington, D.C.

The Clean Energy DC Omnibus Act of 2018 changed the requirements on the city’s mandatory building performance benchmarking program to give more strict requirements for all buildings.

Any buildings in the city over 10,000 square feet – the threshold used to be 50,000 square feet – must comply with the Building Energy Performance Standard. This standard states that all buildings in the city must meet, at minimum, energy-efficiency standards no lower than the median Energy Star score in the city for each building type.

These standards are designed to ensure that, after 2021, all buildings that are part of the benchmarking program meet the energy-use standards or have an agreed-upon plan to:

  • Improve the building’s energy performance by 20 percent
  • Follow a designated improvement plan developed by a Department of Energy & Environment task force
  • Pay a fine as determined by the task force based on the total square footage of the building and how far off from the energy-use goal they are

New York City

Starting this year, New York City instituted “energy grades” for buildings. 

This score is calculated based on the Energy Star score for buildings – which compares the energy performance of the building against that of other similarly sized buildings across the country – and gives each building a letter grade, A through F. These grades are more accessible for the average consumer, meaning anyone looking to rent or buy a property can easily understand whether it’s going to be energy-efficient or not.

The New York City Administrative Code requires all buildings to display their energy grade at public entrances, and the grade must be posted within 30 days of receiving a score. Properties that aren’t covered by the rule will be given a grade of “N” and still required to post their grade.

This new rule creates fair competition between buildings of similar sizes and with similar amenities, but that have wildly different energy performance.

Los Angeles

The city of Los Angeles’s current energy benchmarking ordinance was updated this year to decrease the square footage required to meet energy benchmarks.

In 2020, all municipal buildings of more than 7,500 square feet and commercial or multifamily buildings over 20,000 square feet must meet the city’s energy benchmarking requirements. This broadens the scope of buildings that fall under the requirements, increasing the overall energy-efficiency of large buildings in the city.

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