A new report by a Harvard environmental economist questions energy efficiency benchmarking practices, which building owners often oppose, writes Elizabeth Daigneau.
The report argues that benchmarking, which requires that building owners track energy and water use in their buildings, does not account for individual resident use patterns and that low ratings can harm property values. Furthermore, the authors found no evidence "that these mandatory programs lead to any changes whatsoever in energy use.”
Commissioned by the Greater Boston Real Estate Board and the Building Owners and Managers Association, the report was produced in response to a new benchmarking ordinance in Boston, which would affect commercial properties larger than 25,000 SF and residential properties with more than 25 units.
Buildings account for the lion's share of greenhouse gas emissions in Boston, with 75 percent of building-related emissions coming from commercial and industrial operations.
The report is inconclusive on how benchmarking needs to be modified in order to ensure, rather than just track, building efficiency.