Why You should be Proactive with Complying with Local Law 87

As part of the Greater, Greener Building Plan, Local Law 87 goes into effect next year. The law requires buildings over 50,000 square feet in New York City to file Energy Audit and Retrocommissioning Reports with the city every ten years, based on the building’s tax lot number. Some buildings will have to comply next year and others will have until 2022 until they first have to file. However, the sooner a building complies with the law the better.

If your building’s Energy Audit & Retrocommissioning Reports are due next year, you should start working on them soon. Energy Audit and Retrocommissioning projects can be time consuming. Depending on the size of the building and the systems in place, an Energy Audit could take upwards of 3 months depending what building documentation exists. A thorough Retrocommissioning project can also take between 6 months and 1 year.

If you are one of the lucky buildings who don’t have to file for another ten years, you should still consider acting soon. According to the PlaNY website:

An energy efficiency report, including both an energy audit report and a retro-commissioning report, can be submitted between January 1, 2006, and December 31, 2013, in order to achieve early compliance. In such cases, the next required report for the building would be due in the tenth calendar year after the first assigned due date for the report; for example if the due date would have been 2015, satisfying the early compliance would make the due date 2025.

This means that, potentially, you don’t have to worry about compliance for 19 years after filing your initial report, if your tax lot ends in “2”. Furthermore, the requirements of the law could change and become more strict over time.

Additionally, there is currently funding for 50% of the cost a ASHRAE Level III Energy Audit (which would exceed the Energy Audit requirements of the Local Law 87) from Con Edison. This funding has a will expire, so using it to comply with Local Law 87 as early as possible will cost you less money upfront. There are numerous other funding opportunities for implementing the recommendations that come out of an energy audit. Performing the audit now will help you secure funding for upgrades that otherwise might have expired, or allow you a longer time period to budget before making updates.

There is a direct benefit to the owner or manager for the building to comply with the law as well. An Energy Audit will provide you with valuable information on where energy can be conserved in your building. By implementing the recommendations from the audit, you will be able to economically reduce your buildings energy consumption and improve your bottom line. Retrocommissioning ensures that your existing building systems are operating as efficiently as possible, leading to energy conservation and improved occupant comfort. The sooner the Energy Audit and Retrocommissioning Reports are completed, the sooner you can start reducing your building’s energy use.

Don’t forget Local Law 84 went into effect in New York in 2010, requiring the same group of buildings to be benchmarked by filing their annual energy use with the City by May 1st each year for the previous year. Buildings out of compliance will be charged $500 per quarter. To avoid future fines, a building should submit their benchmark report to the city as soon as possible.

For more information on complying with Local Laws 84 and 87, please contact us at 866-382-8628 or info@rcxbd.com.

Deadline for LL84 submittals has passed! Avoid $2000 in fines by acting today.

PlaNYC, introduced to the public on Earth Day in 2007, has established some laws that building owners and property or facility managers in NYC need to be aware of.

LL84 requires annual benchmarking for energy and water for buildings, and the data must be submitted to the City EACH YEAR by May 1st.

Fines are being issued already for non-compliance with LL84! Building owners are to be fined $500 per quarter of non-compliance, beginning May 1.

Have you received this letter?       http://www.nyc.gov/html/planyc2030/downloads/pdf/2010_noncomply_violation.pdf

Gather your data and submit as soon as possible to avoid continued fines!  RCx is one of the Energy Efficiency service providers that can help- and we now have an easy to use online form: www.rcxbd.com/request

Also to keep on the radar, LL87 comes into play in 2013.  This law requires the same list of buildings (see www.nyc.gov/ggbp) to have energy audits or retrocommissioning done by certified providers. The deadline year that each of those buildings is assigned to comply is organized by tax lot numbers. This law affects buildings every 10 years, however, having retrocommissioning or energy audits done can be a time consuming process. Also, there are some significant advantages to early compliance!  There is also funding available NOW for building owners to have ASHRAE Level III Energy Audits (comply with LL87) to pay for half of the cost of the audit!  There is also funding to help with any first costs when making any energy efficiency improvements.

For more updates on PlaNYC 2030 and the Greener, Greater Buildings Plan, Mayor Bloomberg made an address on Earth Day 2012:

RCx to "Unlock Efficiency" at NFMT Conference March 2012

Many facility managers and building owners have “run the numbers” and researched the effectiveness of energy reduction in their buildings.  Not to mention, it also increases the value of an existing building, reduces risks associated with downtime, and reduces regular operating costs- which can now be viewed as controllable costs.  Oftentimes, due to certain types of energy analysis and building and operations detective work, we are able to reduce current energy consumption in existing buildings by anywhere from 15 – 40%.

Well, the market realizes that there is a significant opportunity out there to make a change, but no one is educating the masses on where to start and what kinds of solutions may be applicable to your specific building and BUDGET.

Come and see us speak on this subject at the **FREE to attend** NFM&T conference in Baltimore, MD.

Unlocking Efficiency: Keys to a Successful Energy Management Program

Thursday March 15th, 2012.

3:10 – 4:00pm

Room 339

Our engineers and industry experts will be presenting:

  1. the development and implementation of an energy-management program
    • key components will be outlined
    • overview of where and how to start managing your facility’s energy use
    • determine current energy consumption
  2. the differences (and similarities) between energy-audits and retrocommissioning
    • when/if either of these services might be applicable
    • what to expect from either service
    • what to look for in a qualified energy auditor or retrocommissioning agent

While we hope to see you in our audience as we speak at NFM&T, if your schedule is tight, we also will be available to answer any of your questions at our BOOTH  #2266 at any time that the exhibit hall is open (Tues – Thurs).

If unable to make it to the Baltimore area for the show, please feel free to contact us through our website, or by email: info@rcxbd.com and we will answer your questions as soon as possible!

PlaNYC's Benchmarking Law (LL84) deadline is extended!


Do you own, live in, or operate a building in New York City that is greater than 50,000 SQ.FT?

Is your building (or condo) one of two or more  that share the same tax lot and total over 100,000 SQ.FT?

If you answered “yes” to either of these questions, I hope that you’ve been doing some reading into Local Laws 84, 87, and 88!

(If you’re still not sure, check out this list: Buildings That Must Benchmark Under Local Law 84)

Most everyone has heard of Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC, and maybe even his 2011 update released in May:

PlaNYC 2011 Update

If not, then maybe you’re doing some research because you’re one of the 30% of owners who received a letter from the Department of Buildings warning of non-compliance with the Benchmarking Law, and that penalties that will be assessed of $500 per building per quarter of non-compliance as of December 31st, 2011!

The benchmarking requirements of Local Law 84 are not overly extensive, but have been designed and organized such that building owners can either meet the requirements in-house, or hire consultants (like RCx Building Diagnostics) for a very low annual fee.  The law does require that single buildings greater than 50,000 SQ.FT, or multiple buildings or condos that share tax lots and total over 100,000 SQ.FT input annual energy and water benchmarking data directly from their utility companies.  This data is to be reported on a publicly available tool: EPA ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager.  However, each building owner will create their own private log-in for the data input.

When creating the profile for Portfolio Manager, some general building information will be requested.  Some of these categories include: building use category (office, residential, manufacturing, hospital, etc), number of occupants, operating hours, gross square footage, number of computers, etc.

Absolutely NO ONE should be charged the fee for non-compliance of this reporting.  Start gathering together your energy bills for the past year, attend a free seminar given by the Urban Green Council and Department of Buildings, and either build your benchmark or hire a consultant to do so for you before December 31st!!!

Also…. if you have a building that does qualify under Local Law 84, please make yourselves aware of Local Laws 87 and 88, as they require more of an investment and will soon be coming into play beginning in 2013.  (If you comply earlier than your deadline, there may be more funding available, and you will still not be required to re-comply until 10 years after your original deadline- gives you a little more time to budget and plan.)

Happy Holiday Season

from your friends at RCx Building Diagnostics!

Benefits of Benchmarking

Starting an energy management program or project can be very overwhelming when you first begin; there are many tasks to perform and it can be confusing as to where you should start. However, before you begin to tackle implementing energy saving measures or even having a more thorough Energy Audit or Retrocommissioning Project done, it is a good idea to determine if your building is a good candidate for one.

Benchmarking is a great way to quickly assess how well your building is performing relative to other, similar buildings. It is the process of comparing your building’s energy use to other buildings, while accounting for differences in size, location, use, weather differences, and other variables.  Benchmarking is a relatively simple process and many energy consulting firms should offer the service at a relatively low cost.

Benchmarking will tell you if your building is a top performing building, indicating that, most likely, your building would not benefit from further analysis at this time. If benchmarking tells you that your building is a bottom performer, this indicates that there are probably opportunities for reducing energy use in your building. If you have a campus of buildings, you can also benchmark your buildings against one another to prioritize which building’s energy use you focus on first.

Once you make changes to your building, you can rebenchmark your buildings performance against what it was in the past to ensure progress towards reducing your energy consumption.

New York City and Washington DC are two of several cities that now require buildings to be benchmarked.  It is vital to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to local energy reporting requirements. It is expected that more and more cities across the country will passing similar legislation to New York and DC.

Better Buildings Initiative

Last year the Home Star Act was introduced has since become part of the Clean Energy Jobs and Oil Company Accountability Act of 2010. The purpose of the Home Star program is to create new green jobs by incentivizing energy efficiency improvements in residential buildings using rebates. The program would offer rebates for energy efficient appliances, upgrades to residential mechanical systems, insulation, and whole home energy efficiency retrofits. The $6 billion Home Star Act is currently before the senate. The issue that some have had with the act is that it only addresses energy efficiency improvements in residential buildings and does not encourage energy efficiency in commercial buildings.

Earlier this year, President Obama announced the Better Buildings Initiative, which has the overall goal of making commercial buildings 20% more energy efficient by 2020, saving businesses a total of $40 billion dollars annually. Commercial buildings were responsible for 20% of the total energy used by the U.S. economy in 2010, therefore addressing commercial building energy efficiency is vital to significantly, improving the overall energy efficiency of the country. The President plans on achieving success with the Better Buildings Initiatives through a series of strategies.

The current Energy Efficient Commercial Building Tax Deduction, which is part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, will be changed to a tax credit and will be more generous. The tax deduction allows commercial buildings to deduct between $0.30 and $1.80 per square foot based on energy efficiency upgrades implemented in the building. Additionally, real estate investment trusts (REITs) will now be able to take advantage of the tax credit. Changing the incentive from a tax deduction to a credit greatly improves the value of the tax incentive to building owners.

President Obama is also seeking to increase the number of financing opportunities available for commercial retrofits. Lack of financing opportunities has been a hurdle for some building owners. The Small Business Administration is working with lenders to take advantage of increased loan size limits to encourage new energy efficiency retrofit loans for small businesses. Additionally, the President’s Budget will introduce a new pilot program through the DOE to guarantee loans for some commercial buildings.   

States and local governments typically have control over building codes, regulations, and performance standards. President Obama plants to incentivize states and localities with competitive grants, to streamline energy efficiency standards, encouraging building upgrades and attracting private sector investment.

The President is reaching out through the Better Buildings Challenge to leaders in the commercial and university sectors to make their organizations more energy efficient. Organizations that become partners in the challenge will commit to making their buildings more efficient. Partners will become eligible for benefits such as technical assistance, information on best practices being used by peers, and public recognition. 

The last piece of the initiative is to train all of the workers who will be needed to perform the upgrades. The Administration is currently working on creating a Building Construction Technology Extension Partnership that would provide workforce training in areas that will be in high demand in the future, such as energy auditing.

Although the White House still has not announced the budget for the program, according to the Wall Street Journal, President Obama has said he would like to fund the program by increasing taxes for oil and natural gas companies.

The details of the Better Buildings Initiative still have to be formulated, but there are several issues to consider when determining how effective the President will be in laying the ground work for a 20% reduction in commercial building energy consumption.

The initiative provides incentives for implementing energy efficient upgrades, rather than creating penalties for not becoming energy efficient. Commercial building owners are not forced to do anything.  Although owners may end up paying more over the long run as a  result of higher energy bills, incentives tend to result in less action than penalties.

Additionally, projects that do not have the greatest return on investment may be prioritized over more economical projects. When it comes to energy projects, people often choose to implement the “sexy” projects that will draw attention to their sustainability efforts, such as solar panels, rather lower cost more effective measures, such as building controls. A standardized analysis should be required prior to any building applying for financing or tax incentives and project with a qualifying return on investment should be given priority.

Providing funding for or requiring Energy Audits to be performed prior to receiving any funding or tax credits would ensure that the maximum reduction in energy consumption is achieved per dollar invested in the program. Through Energy Audits, building owners would become educated on their building’s current energy use and on which potential energy efficient projects will provide them with the greatest savings. Often projects which are perceived to yield significant energy savings, do not. Additionally, this would drive the demand for Energy Auditors, which would in turn result in a larger green workforce.

Reducing the energy consumption of commercial buildings by 20% over ten years is an ambitious endeavor. Actively engaging all kinds of commercial building types is imperative to achieving the goal of the Better Buildings Initiative. The amount of funding the bill receives

The Difference between Energy Audits & Retrocommissioning

Many property managers have been struggling to reduce operating costs by improving the energy efficiency in their buildings.  For many owners and operators, an Energy Audit or Retrocommissioning project is the perfect starting point. However, it can be difficult to understand the difference between the two processes, and to determine the best option for your building.

An Energy Audit is meant to inform a building manager how well a building is performing from an energy consumption standpoint.  The audit report includes a list of energy-saving measures one may choose to implement, including the payback and annual energy savings associated with each measure. An energy auditor will examine at least one year of energy bills to understand how the building consumes energy throughout the various seasons. Then they will use that data to benchmark the building’s energy use as compared to similar buildings in the area.

The auditor will also analyze all of the building systems in place and their operating schedules, breaking down the building’s total energy consumption by use (i.e. lighting, heating/cooling, outlet plug loads, etc). The scope of an Energy Audit can also be expanded to include a review of water use, if a building manager is interested in reducing water consumption.

The final product of an Energy Audit is a report explaining how the building is currently performing and providing a list of no cost, low-cost, and capital-cost energy conservation opportunities.  Building owners that want to understand and reduce their energy consumption should invest in an Energy Audit.

The Retrocommissioning process systematically analyzes and fine-tunes an existing building’s individual systems as well as all operation and maintenance (O&M) procedures. Unlike an Energy Audit, energy reduction is not the sole goal of Retrocommissioning. The precise goals of a Retrocommissioning project can vary between projects, but can include any combination of the following: extending the life of equipment, improving comfort of a building for its occupants, improving indoor air quality, improving the effectiveness of operation and maintenance procedures (thus reducing a facility manager’s time spent on unplanned maintenance), reducing utility bills, reducing energy consumption, and reducing the number of complaints from building occupants.

The outcome of Retrocommissioning is a more comfortable and efficient building and a guide for operating and maintaining it. Candidates for Retrocommissioning include: buildings where the occupancy and use has changed since the building was constructed, buildings that have occupant comfort issues, and buildings that need to reduce energy consumption.

Both an Energy Audit and Retrocommissioning will lower a building’s operating cost and improve a property’s value. Before taking on any building performance improvement project, it is vital for a building owner or operator to outline the goals s/he hopes to achieve in order to choose the best course of action for building improvement.

How to Evaluate Energy Audit Offers Against One Another

Not all Energy Audits are created equal. Depending on who performs an Energy Audit and what guidelines (if any) they follow, the depth of analysis performed and audit cost will vary greatly. Many people do not understand that you can not evaluate Energy Audit vendors against one another based solely on price, there are other variables to consider that will greatly affect the value of the report you are receiving.  A free Energy Audit provided by a lighting supply vendor will most likely not tell you much more than how much energy could be saved by upgrading your lighting.  A Level III Energy Audit that follows the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers’ (ASHRAE) Procedures for Commercial Building Energy Audits will provide you with a great detail of information, but this level of analysis can be costly is unnecessary unless major renovations are planned.

What Level of Energy Audit is Needed

Ideally, prior to solicitating Energy Audit proposals, the goals for the audit should be determined.  Are you looking to simply find out more information about how your building is consuming energy relative to comparable buildings? Do you already know that the energy efficiency of your building is poor and you want to lay out a energy management plan for the next 5 years? Are you planning major renovations and want to ensure that the building will greatly reduce their energy use as a result of the building upgrades? Laying out your goals will help you to write a request for proposal for an Energy Audit that will satisfy your building objectives.

There are three levels of Energy Audits that are commonly recognized. A Level I Energy Audit is often called a “Walk-through Analysis.” For this level of analysis, an auditor will evaluate historical energy use,conduct a site visit to the building, and perform a brief analysis on potential energy saving opportunities. A Level I Energy Audit report will provide a list of low-cost & no-cost energy saving opportunities along with their estimated cost and savings. A list of capital improvements that should be analyzed further will also be included. This level of  audit is appropriate for buildings without a lot of capital to invest in upgrades and whose energy use has not been evaluated before.

A Level II Energy Audit requires a more thorough building site visit and energy analysis. An auditor will spend more time onsite looking at all of the building systems and discussing their operation and maintenance with the facility manager. Following the onsite visit, the auditor will begin a detailed analysis of the building energy use. Partway through the offsite analysis the auditor will meet with the building owner and operator to review all of the potential energy saving opportunities and select which ones should be fully analyzed and which are not feasible to implement. The auditor will then complete their analysis and provide a report to the building owner that includes a breakdown of the energy use in the building, a list of energy savings opportunities along with their estimated savings and cost analaysis, and a list of potential capital-intensive improvements that require further analysis.

In addition to all of the analysis work done as part of a Level II Energy Audit, a Level III Energy Audit focuses on capital intensive improvements. This additional analysis may require more thorough data collection and engineering analysis. The report for this level of audit will include everything in the Level II Report and a list of detailed capital intensive project costs and savings associated with each energy saving recommendation.

The ASHRAE guidelines list specifically what analysis should be included in all three levels on Energy Audit. Although many people refer to the ASHRAE definitions when discussing a particular level of audit, it is important that you confirm with your auditor that they are using the ASHRAE guidelines. If they are not, make sure to find out exactly what guidelines they are following or what analysis will be included in the audit. It is important to make sure that Energy Auditors are bidding on the same scope of work and that your goals for the audit are included in that scope of work.

Who Should Perform the Energy Audit?

In addition to ensuring that all auditors are bidding on the same scope of work, you will want to find out about the experience and certifications a firm has to make certain that the quality of the audit will be satisfactory. A good auditor will have certifications from reputable agencies, such as the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE), ASHRAE, or the Building Performance Institute (BPI). Good certifications are a sign of an Energy Auditors experience. Additionally you should ask for references or previously completed reports to confirm that the auditor has experience in conducting similar Energy Audits.  

Many product vendors have begun to offer free or heavily discounted Energy Audits. These free audits may seem appealing, but they will most likely not analyze the overall building and will not provide you with unbiased information on what actions can be taken to reduce your building’s energy consumption 

Deciding on an Auditor

When it comes down to awarding a contract, keep in mind that when it comes to an Energy Audit, you get what you pay for. You will not hear about facility managers getting a great bargin Energy Audit, but you will hear about people who did not know what to look for when signing an Energy Audit contract and in the end did not get a valueable analysis of potential energy saving opportunities. Prior to awarding any energy audit contract, make sure you will get what you want to out of the audit and a qualified person is performing the audit.

Greenbuild 2010: A Reflection of How the Green Building Movement is Changing

Last week, I was fortunate to attend the USGBC‘s annual Greenbuild conference in Chicago. I have attended Greenbuild for four out of the past five years and have noticed a definate change in who is attending the event and what topics are being discussed. The Greenbuild conference is no longer targeted towards engineers and architects. More people are interested and active in the green building movement than ever before. 

As the green movement gains momentum, green buildings are no longer away of setting your business apart from the competition, rather having green buildings will enable you to remain competitive. Consumers are demanding green building products. Parents want green schools for their children. Businesses are willing to pay a premium for green office space. The days of green building being a niche market are long gone. As a result, people, who traditionally were not concerned with or interested in sustainable buildings, now have to remain educated in green buildings.

It seemed as though the majority of courses were not focused on how to make a building green and what the benefits of a green building compared to a traditional building are. Rather, I felt the majority of courses were focused on public policy, building codes, benchmarking, and engaging building occupants. I had not expected these kinds of courses to dominate the Greenbuild course offerings, but it does make sense.  Education sessions this year included rather non traditional topics, such as “Community Colleges, Training & Rehab Centers Transforming Lives”, “Channeling Diversity into Unity: the Human Metrics of Sustainability”, and “A District Energy Policy Framework for Existing Neighborhoods.” Attendees already understood what a green building is and most people understand how to make a building more sustainable. People now are looking for ways to expand the number of green buildings and engage occupants more in green buildings. This is why more than engineers and architects are now behind the movement.