For 2010, it’s the economy, energy, and the environment



In July 2009, I wrote that building performance data is golden said that, consequently, there would be a greater call for retrocommissioning and ongoing commissioning services, a greater call for dashboard software for reporting status and trends to owners and occupants, and a continued shift in consulting engineering services toward improving the performance of existing buildings. Since then, enough has happened that I’m escalating my assessment that building performance data will be platinum in 2010.


The new construction market continues to muddle through economic concerns such as high unemployment and tight financing restrictions. This means that investments will need more data for justification going in, and more data for verification coming out, for projects that primarily concern reducing operational costs and possibly improving the investment value of buildings.


Meanwhile, energy and environmental regulations and voluntary programs are moving forward.


At the federal level, three concrete climate actions took place that impact buildings. 1) An executive order calls for a 20% reduction of greenhouse gases (GHGs) among federal facilities and vehicles by 2020 and a 26% increase in water efficiency. 2) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency mandated GHG reporting to begin in 2010 for facilities that comprise one or more stationary sources (such as buildings) emitting an aggregate of 25,000 metric tons per year or more. 3) The EPA declared that CO2, HFCs, and four other gases “in the atmosphere threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations.”


These three events signal long-term U.S. commitment to climate action, which aside from setting the groundwork for further climate action, also justify the buildup of voluntary measures taken by companies, nonprofit institutions, universities, cities, and states. Many of these voluntary measures involve upgrading and reporting the energy efficiency of new and existing buildings.


At the municipal level, New York City passed a new energy code that requires energy audits of nonresidential buildings, similar to ordinances passed in 2008 by Austin, Texas, and Washington, D.C. San Francisco’s mayor announced in 2009 that he wants the city to require mandatory energy audits, too.


At the institutional level, ASHRAE announced the start of its pilot program for a building performance label. Earlier in 2009, the 5-year energy and water utility data reporting were added to the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED 2009 to address credibility concerns over performance.


To jumpstart your new year, Consulting-Specifying Engineer has articles on LEED liability , retrocommissioning , dashboards , and EPA’s mandatory GHG reporting .


Happy New Year, and thank you for joining us!


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