Director, Energy Efficiency Division, Department of Energy Resources
We all know the fuel efficiency, or miles per gallon, of the cars we drive, yet most of us have no idea how well our homes, offices, schools, hospitals and other buildings perform when it comes to energy. Since we make decisions on what car to buy in part based on its fuel efficiency, wouldn’t we also want to know how energy efficient a home or a commercial building is before we buy it or agree to rent space and are saddled with high energy costs?
The answer seems obvious once you consider that we spend 90 percent of our time indoors, and that buildings consume 40 percent of all energy in the U.S. and produce 40 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions.
To change this glaring gap in our energy knowledge, the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) collaborated with a public-private sector team of energy and building experts to develop a building asset rating and labeling program that rates a commercial building’s energy performance, irrespective of tenant and occupant behavior. DOER believes that providing energy performance ratings for commercial buildings will ultimately create financial value for efficiency in the marketplace, thereby motivating building owners and operators to upgrade their properties to be more energy efficient. We plan to develop a pilot program to examine the best way to move forward. DOER invites all interested stakeholders to review the Energy Labeling for Commercial Buildings white paper. Comments will be accepted through February 12, 2011.
In addition to this commercial labeling initiative, Massachusetts is using a U.S. Department of Energy grant to demonstrate a national home energy label and catalyze the home energy retrofit market. Our three-year pilot, starting in mid-2011, will target one- and two-family homes in seven western Massachusetts communities—Springfield, Longmeadow, East Longmeadow, Hampden, Wilbraham, Palmer, and Belchertown. The core components of this pilot include providing an energy label that reflects a home’s energy performance both before and after upgrading, as well as an online tool that allows homeowners to easily and automatically obtain bids from contractors, matched to nation-leading financing and incentives for efficiency upgrades.
These two innovative energy labeling initiatives complement the other energy efficiency work underway in Massachusetts, such as better building codes, greater availability of energy efficiency services and incentives, and training opportunities for building operators, designers and builders. Stay tuned for updates in the new year.