PHILADELPHIA — All Philadelphia commercial buildings encompassing more than 50,000 square feet will be required to measure their energy and water use and disclose that data to the public following the passing of a new benchmarking law.

Lawmakers believe a building owner’s ability to access utility data in an electronic format and easily transfer this data into analysis tools is an important factor contributing to the success of efforts to enhance building energy efficiency through benchmarking.

A new report published by the Energy Efficient Buildings Hub (EEB Hub), Utilities’ Guide to Data Access for Building Benchmarking, explains how local utilities can improve this access to facilitate benchmarking.

“Regulators and utilities can work together to provide tools to building owners to help them understand their building energy use and reduce their consumption. The EEB Hub leveraged our expertise in partnership with the Institute for Market Transformation to provide key information on best practices for data access and benchmarking to our region and others with the release of this report,” said Laurie Actman, deputy director, EEB Hub. “We commend PECO for the plan it has filed with the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission to provide automated data-transfer service for its customers in order to support building benchmarking throughout the region.”

Nationally, the number of buildings benchmarked has increased by more than a factor of 10 in the last decade, but acquiring data for benchmarking is still a challenge for many owners. In separately metered buildings, the building owner often needs to seek authorization for meter data from each tenant to abide by privacy laws and utility confidentiality policies. Additionally, without an automatic service from utilities, owners frequently have to re-enter data by hand, a time burden that raises the possibility of errors.

Last year, the EEB Hub, with support from the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission, convened a data management working group for local utilities, regulators, building owners, and other stakeholders to discuss enhanced data access programs. The new report grew out of those discussions. In addition to recommendations for improving owners’ data access, it also describes the benefits of benchmarking for utilities, as a tool to analyze and drive demand for their energy-efficiency programs and to validate energy savings.

Publication date: 4/29/2013 

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