BERDO ENERGY ASSESSMENT COMPLIANCE FINDINGS
WRITTEN BY: YVE TORRIE, DIRECTOR OF CLIMATE, ENERGY & RESILIENCE & MARIA MASOOD, INTERN
Based on the City of Boston’s 2019 Climate Action Plan update, in 2020 the City of Boston committed to a Building Emission Performance Standard aimed at putting existing buildings on a trajectory to zero net carbon by 2050. The City of Boston is interested in integrating this standard with its current Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO) program.
The goal of BERDO is to reduce energy use or greenhouse gas emissions over time within Boston’s large and medium-sized buildings. It consists of reporting and disclosing annual energy and water use for buildings over 35,000 square feet, and an energy assessment or major energy savings action every five years. To comply with the energy assessment requirement of BERDO, one of the following improvements must be demonstrated:
- A reduction by at least 15 percent or more over the last five years of a building’s:
- energy usage;
- energy use intensity;
- annual greenhouse gas emissions, excluding changes to the electricity grid, or;
- greenhouse gas intensity, excluding changes to the electricity grid.
- An improvement of a building’s Energy Star rating by at least 15 points
To understand the effectiveness of BERDO’s energy assessment or major energy saving action every five years, the Boston Green Ribbon Commission’s (GRC’s) Commercial Real Estate Working Group and A Better City (ABC), are conducting an analysis of member buildings that have been required to comply with the energy assessment/energy savings action to date. The goal of this analysis is to understand what percentage of GRC/ABC member buildings have completed the assessment using which compliance pathways, and what percentage have not completed it. For those member buildings that have not complied, we will be conducting interviews to understand the barriers to completion. These findings, in aggregate, will be reported to the City of Boston for consideration in the development of the Building Emission Performance Standard.
For comparison, we are also analyzing the energy assessment/energy action compliance rate of all BERDO reporters to understand the most common reporting pathways. We will not conduct interviews with those not in energy assessment compliance, beyond the GRC/ABC members mentioned above.
A BETTER CITY and GREEN RIBBON COMMISSION MEMBER FINDINGS
For ABC and GRC members, we reviewed the portfolios of building owners with buildings in Boston that are 35,000 square feet and above and are required to report to BERDO. Based on the 2019 data released by the City of Boston, our findings are as follows:
- 81 member buildings were required to report to BERDO; 1 building reported voluntarily;
- 30 member buildings (37%) were not required to complete their energy assessment as they had not been reporting for 5 years;
- 51 member buildings (63%) were required to conduct an energy assessment/energy action after 5 years of reporting. Of those, 47.1% were in compliance, 45.1% were non-compliant, and 7.8% were given a one-time 6-month extension;
- For members that completed their energy assessment/energy action, the compliance pathways used were:
- 46% (11 member buildings) maintained ENERGY STAR for three or more-years (buildings with an energy star score of 75 or higher can apply to be ENERGY STAR-certified by the Environmental Protection Agency);
- 21% (5 member buildings) were Certified LEED Silver with at least 15 points in Energy and Atmosphere;
- 13% (3 member buildings) reported the annual electricity generated by on-site renewables (buildings that have on-site solar panels or wind turbines can report the amount of electricity generated annually);
- 8% (2 member buildings) conducted an ASHRAE II Energy Audit;
- 8% (2 member buildings) used energy efficiency to lower their emissions onsite by 15% or more over the preceding 5 years; and
- 4% (1 member building) used an Institutional Master Plan (they were a part of an institutional master plan that lowered emissions 15% or more portfolio-wide over the preceding 5 years).
We also reviewed all BERDO reporters in aggregate for comparison. Our findings from the 2019 data are as follows:
- 1,753 Boston buildings reported to BERDO, 20.54% are municipal facilities and 1.83% were reported voluntarily;
- 1,201 (68.5%) of the 1,753 buildings were not required to complete their energy assessment as they had not been reporting for five years;
- 552 Boston building buildings (31.5% of the total Boston buildings) were required to conduct an energy assessment. Of these, 38.8% were in compliance, 38.6% were not in compliance and 22.6% were granted an extension.
- For the buildings that completed their energy assessment/energy action, they used the following compliance pathways:
- 26% (56 buildings) used an Institutional Master Plan (they were a part of an institutional master plan that lowered emissions 15% or more portfolio-wide over the preceding 5 years);
- 23% (49 buildings) completed an ASHRAE Level II energy audit;
- 19% (40 buildings) maintained ENERGY STAR certification for three or more years; (buildings with an energy star score of 75 or higher can apply to be ENERGY STAR-certified by the Environmental Protection Agency);
- 18% (39 buildings) used energy efficiency to lower their emissions onsite by 15% or more over the preceding 5 years;
- 8% (18 buildings) reported the annual electricity generated by on-site renewables (buildings that have on-site solar panels or wind turbines can report the amount of electricity generated annually);
- 5% (10 buildings) were Certified LEED Silver with at least 15 points in Energy and Atmosphere; and
- 1% (2 buildings) used an alternative energy audit (approved alternative energy audit).
TAKE AWAYS AND NEXT STEPS
As you can see from the analysis conducted to date:
- 63% of ABC/GRC members were required to submit their energy assessment/energy action requirement in 2019, compared to 31% of the total Boston buildings required to report. As the 2019 energy assessment/energy action compliance group was for the first year of BERDO reporters in 2014 – commercial buildings over 50,000 square feet – this is understandable.
- The preferred modes of energy assessment/energy action compliance differed for the total Boston buildings required to report and those of ABC/GRC member buildings. While ABC/GRC member buildings used Energy star and LEED certifications as the preferred pathways, BERDO buildings in aggregate preferred Institutional Master Plans and ASHRAE Level II Energy Audits.
As 45.1 % of the 51 ABC/GRC member buildings required to submit an energy assessment/energy action were non-compliant within BERDO, we will be conducting interviews with some members to understand the challenges they have faced that prevented their compliance. Understanding these challenges will be helpful as we work with the City of Boston on the Building Emission Performance Standard for existing buildings, and how it will be integrated with BERDO.