Journal Article

Using Information to Close the Energy Efficiency Gap: A Review of Benchmarking and Disclosure Ordinances

Summary

These new laws may be an important step in closing the energy efficiency gap in the commercial and multifamily building sectors, but careful evaluation of the programs is essential.

Abstract

Building energy use accounted for 38 percent of total US carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2012, and roughly half of those emissions were attributable to the commercial building sector. A new policy that has been adopted in 10 US cities and one US county is a requirement that commercial and sometimes also multifamily residential building owners disclose their annual energy use and benchmark it relative to other buildings. We discuss these nascent policies, preliminary analyses of the data that have been collected so far, and how to evaluate whether they are having an effect on energy use and CO2 emissions. Missing or imperfect information is a contributor to the energy efficiency gap, the finding that many low-cost options for improving energy efficiency fail to be adopted. These new laws may be an important step in closing the gap in the commercial and multifamily building sectors, but careful evaluation of the programs will be essential.