Energy benchmarking and disclosure laws are getting real. To date, NYC’s Local Law 84 (LL84), like most benchmarking laws, has required buildings to submit data on their annual energy usage without checking to see if the data was complete or sensible. The bar was set low to ease building owners into this reporting requirement. But now that the law has been around for a few years, the City is shifting from requiring mere participation to requiring real, useful data. This year, LL84 benchmarking submissions are being held to a higher data quality standard than in previous years and violations are being issued to those who do not meet that standard. And we can only assume that other cities with energy benchmarking and disclosure laws will follow suit. Why is this happening, and why is it happening now?
What We’ve Seen
Since NYC’s benchmarking law was first introduced, there has been a proliferation of low-cost operators who promise to just “make the LL84 problem go away”, by submitting the bare minimum necessary to avoid a fine. I won’t name any names but we have seen some shocking examples of negligence from these operators, who submit totally false data to the City. When you see a submission that claims a building has only used 1000 gallons of oil this year for all of it’s energy, and no electricity at all, it’s obvious that something is up. We see cases like this all the time, and we expect to see more as the violations go out and we’re hired to correct the submissions. While these operators are temporarily assuaging a pain point for building owners, the result of their service is detrimental not only to their clients, but also the City.
Why This Matters
Let’s not forget that LL84 was born of a genuine need to gather energy data which would inform the City’s plans for improvement. Given the volume of low-quality submissions, a large portion of the submitted data is useless, making it all the more difficult to identify the greatest areas of need.
This data is crucial to building a better, more sustainable city. Retrofitting Affordability, co-authored by The Building Energy Exchange and Bright Power, is a great example of what can be accomplished with accurate data. Through data analysis, we were able to identify which buildings and which energy efficiency retrofit measures have the greatest potential for carbon reduction, an important step in executing the City’s climate action plan, One City: Built to Last. Through this plan, the City is committed to improving the building stock. Without accurate data, everyone is working blind.
This data is also incredibly valuable to real estate owners, for much the same reason. Accurate data is the cornerstone of any energy management strategy, from planning to execution and verification. There’s a common saying about analyzing bad data: Garbage In, Garbage Out.
What To Do If You Received a Violation
The LL84 benchmarking violations will now result from either failure to submit data or data quality errors such as:
- Missing or zero in the ‘Property Floor Area ‘field (square feet);
- Missing or zero in the ‘Number of Buildings’ field;
- Missing or zero in the ‘Site EUI (kBTU/sq. ft.)’ field (Site Energy Use Intensity);
- Missing or zero in the ‘Source EUI (kBTU/sq. ft.)’ field (Source Energy Use Intensity);
- Data in the ‘Metered Areas (Energy)’ field is missing or does not account for the total energy consumption
- Missing or incorrectly formatted BBL number
If you’ve received a benchmarking violation, in NYC or elsewhere, and are wondering what do next, don’t be angry at the City; this data is crucial to making your building better and the City better. Instead come talk to us, about not only getting benchmarking done right, but also turning it from an annoying annual expense, into a valuable insight. You will pay less, the city will burn less fuel and the only people losing out will be the paper-pushing middlemen, who enjoyed getting rich without providing value.