The EPA is creating a new energy efficiency recognition program for commercial tenants! Anyone who leases a commercial office space can apply here (the deadline for this initial application is August 15).
Prior to joining 5 Lakes Energy in February 2017, Laura Sherman served as a policy advisor in the U.S. Senate to Senator Michael F. Bennet (D-CO). It was an honor to cover energy, agriculture, and environmental policy issues for the Senator and the State of Colorado. Along with an amazing team, she worked on topics ranging from food policy to wildfire funding to ozone regulations to energy efficiency.
Senator Bennet is a strong supporter of policies that advance energy efficiency and renewable energy. Along with Kelly Ayotte (former Republican Senator from New Hampshire), he introduced the Better Buildings Act in 2013. In 2015, the legislation was signed into law by President Obama.
Last year, residential and commercial buildings used 40 percent of the energy consumed in the U.S. To date, energy efficiency efforts in commercial buildings have largely been at the “whole-building” level. Certification and recognition programs, like the EPA’s ENERGY STAR program are based on the energy efficiency of the entire building. Leased tenant spaces in these buildings have been a missing piece in the energy efficiency puzzle.
Energy performance and sustainability cannot be fully realized without tenant assistance and input. And office tenants use a lot of energy — especially in areas experiencing large growth and development. However, it can be difficult for tenants to reduce their energy use and there are often limited incentives for them to do so. The Better Buildings Act took a holistic approach by considering office tenants’ impact on energy consumption and incentivizing tenant energy efficiency.
The law requires the creation of a new voluntary “Tenant STAR” certification (now called “ENERGY STAR for Tenants”) to reward and recognize tenants who design, construct, and create high-performance leased spaces. This certification will be similar to the EPA’s ENERGY STAR program for building owners.
The first phase of implementation of this program was completed in April 2016 when the DOE released it’s report on “best practices” in the design and construction of energy efficient tenant spaces.
Recently, the EPA began the next phase of implementation – gathering data on tenant spaces to understand current energy use and existing energy efficiency practices in tenant spaces. These data will ultimately enable the agency to develop a rigorous data-based recognition program for energy efficiency among commercial tenants. The EPA is currently seeking “Charter Tenants” who will be recognized for their energy efficiency efforts and their role in refining the future recognition program. These commercial office tenants will estimate their energy usage, install energy meters to track usage, install energy efficient lighting and equipment, and share their energy data with the EPA.
Commercial office building tenants can enroll up to five tenant spaces to be “Charter Tenants.” Each “Charter Tenant” will receive a certificate to display, will be first in line to earn the new ENERGY STAR Tenant Space designation when it is developed, and will serve an important role in the development of that designation.
Anyone who leases a commercial office space and is taking steps toward energy efficiency should consider applying by the August 15 deadline.
This is a great opportunity to reduce energy use, save money, and help to improve energy efficiency for a sector of the commercial building market that has been out of reach!