Lauren Jonas contributed to this article.
Greenprints welcomed keynote speaker Cliff Majersik, executive director of the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT) in Washington D.C., to discuss energy benchmarking and disclosure laws. Majersik highlighted the importance of gathering and managing environmental data on commercial buildings across the U.S. Majersik said that to move forward into a green and sustainable built world, businesses and institutions must first know where they stand, so they will ultimately know where growth and research are necessary.
Topics currently being benchmarked by Majersik’s team and others across the country include, percentage of total carbon emissions from building sectors, energy performance of existing buildings, LEED certified and ENERGY STAR buildings at universities, and poor-performing versus high-performing buildings regarding energy use. Majersik said they are collecting data on the amount of buildings that are involved in this benchmarking process.
One might ask why benchmarking is so important, and furthermore why this information must be disclosed to the public. The answer is that benchmarking and disclosure drives demand and competition. Majersik notes, “When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported back, the rate of improvement accelerates.” This virtuous cycle of improvement, Majersik believes, is the key to a greener built environment.
Currently, the targeted areas to be benchmarked are big cities, including New York City, San Francisco, Atlanta, Chicago, Boston and Washington D.C. New York City alone has over 16,000 buildings, spanning over 2.5 billion square feet of space. “The poorest performing buildings use four to eight times the energy of the highest performing buildings” says Majersik. “By improving the poor performers, citywide energy reductions of 18 to 31 percent could be achieved.” IMT believes that energy benchmarking policies nationwide can make this happen.
Majersik also envisions small business and job increases. IMT profiled small businesses and found that they were adding staff and increasing client bases because of new energy benchmarking policies. Lindsay Napor Mclean, COO of Institute for Market Transformation, supports Majersik’s argument. “The Greener Greater Buildings Plan has spurred the New York market to interest and activity around energy efficiency. Over the past year, we have begun working with over 75 million square feet of real estate in New York and over 400 new clients.”
IMT is involved with numerous initiatives to create healthier and more energy-efficient living environments, including City Energy, Building Rating, Green Lease Library. With the help of companies across the country, Majersik trusts that more people will take part in benchmarking and disclosure. Ultimately, with support from state and local governments as well as the private sector, improvements in a greener built environment are inevitable.