New Online Resources Provide Wealth of Building Policy Data

New Online Resources Provide Wealth of Building Policy Data

The Institute for Market Transformation, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy launched online resources and tools this week to provide a range of in-depth information about policy on energy performance and rating of buildings., created by the Institute for Market Transformation and the Natural Resources Defense Council and unveiled Tuesday, is an online repository for policy and information about building energy performance regulations and disclosure programs that are currently on the books around the world.

In addition to a document library with material about or from more than 100 cities, states and provinces, the site includes:

  • An interactive global map than enables users to see summaries of the policy within a region and, if applicable, policy of the states or other jurisdictions within that region. For example, clicking on western Europe will pull up a summary of the European Union's Energy Performance of Buildings Directive and clicking on EU member states will show their activities in response to the directive.
  • A section focusing on efforts to establish energy performance and disclosure policy in six U.S. cities and states. Last month, San Francisco's Board of Supervisors adopted an ordinance requiring owners of commercial buildings of at least 10,000 square feet to conduct an energy audit every five years and benchmark the energy performance annually. The city's work to establish the policy is among the efforts highlighted on the site.
  • A gallery of the energy labels, certificates and scorecards in use or development in the the United States.
  • Matrices comparing legislation, energy rating system and disclosure requirements for commercial and residential structures among U.S. cities and states. is intended for building professionals, policy makers, real estate managers, developers and others regardless of their level of knowledge about policy and practices related to building energy performance, said Andrew Burr, director of the Institute for Market Transformation's Building Energy Rating Program.

"There's a lot of value in creating a resource where all the data is available in one spot,'' Burr said. For example, in the U.S., "we've had a tough time finding effective policies and programs to drive efficiency in existing buildings," he said. Those charged with crafting policy can use the site to see what other locales have done in this country and abroad.

"A lot of lessons have come out of Europe" that can be helpful to the industry here and to policymakers, Burr said. "We'd like people to know about what went right, what went wrong."

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy also seeks to increase awareness of energy efficiency efforts across sectors in the U.S. Yesterday, the organization expanded its online compendium on the subject by adding a section focusing on local energy efficiency policy to resources that already included material on national and state energy policy and the commercial, residential, industrial and transportation sectors.

Though created independently, the two information-rich resources put together by the three NGOs offer a comprehensive view of building energy policy and programs from local to global perspectives and from drill-down to high-level examinations energy efficiency regulations and practices.

The material comes just a month after President Barack Obama announced his Better Buildings Initiative -- a call for aggressive improvement of the energy efficiency of existing commercial buildings. The president's proposal lays out a goal of achieving a 20 percent improvement in energy efficiency in commercial buildings by 2020, a move that would save companies and business owners $40 billion a year in energy costs. The president also seeks the reform of existing tax and other incentives and proposes a new competitive grant program.

"The timing just worked out well," said Burr. 'We are very pleased that the president is prioritizing commercial buildings."

Developers of both online resources say they expect to soon add more material to their sites.

At ACEEE, Communities Program Manager Eric Mackres said the organization plans to add more case studies to its site in the coming months. ACEEE is also planning to soon release a "policy calculator" that will help local governments determine what energy efficiency measures would make sense for them to pursue, Mackres said.

Image CC licensed by Flickr user heiwa4126.