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National Grid

Getting Started with Benchmarking Energy Data

Owners and managers of many New York City multifamily buildings have an urgent task to address: compliance with Local Law 97, the city’s pioneering effort to achieve a 40 percent reduction in the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

In this second report of a three-part series, National Grid shows how a property can link its energy-use data to the ENERGYSTAR® Portfolio Manager® benchmarking tool—an essential building block to creating an energy-conservation roadmap.

Local Law 97 Compliance for Landlords and Management Companies: How to Benchmark Your Building’s Energy Usage

An efficient, one-time data connection sets your compliance journey up for success.

New Yorkers are addicted to ratings and scores, well beyond those of their many sports teams. Take restaurants’ sanitation grades, for example. Anything lower than an A or a B can be the downfall of even the most beloved pizzeria or sushi bar.

Now, with the inception of New York City’s Local Law 97, the city is assessing multifamily rental apartments, co-ops and condominiums with more than 25,000 square feet of total space on their energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions, and buildings must post their grade at their entrance. The next citywide assessment is set for October.

Grading is just part of an evolving municipal enforcement process to battle climate change by including specific energy-efficiency targets and fines for noncompliance.

Are you making the grade?

If you’ve been graded and you’re not happy with the result, you’re not alone. In 2021, only 20 percent of multifamily properties 25,000 square feet or larger scored an A. The most popular grade? 39 percent earned a lackluster D. Meanwhile, one out of 10 buildings received an F, given for failure to file the required grading data.[1]

“Many customers ask us what they can do to improve their grade,” says Anthony Rondinelli, customer solutions, at National Grid. “First, they’ll want to understand what benchmarking is, and how to best tackle it. Our Benchmarking Program enables them to dive into their grade, understand how they’re using energy in their building, and then develop a roadmap to raise their grade.”

Why grades matter.

Scoring high is much more than a green status symbol. When a building scores a low grade, it’s signaling that it’s not energy efficient. As a result, potential renters or buyers who place a high priority on environmental stewardship may be less likely to do business with you—not to mention it may also indicate higher utility bills.

Benchmarking helps properties with their homework.

Using benchmarking, you can measure your building’s current energy usage against past consumption, and compare it to a designated performance level and/or similar buildings in your portfolio (if applicable). In 2009, New York City became the first city to mandate benchmarking, with the implementation of the Greener, Greater Buildings Plan.

Aiding this process, the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager® benchmarking tool can help you get—and make sense of—the data you need to make the grade. Portfolio Manager works with your building’s aggregated energy-usage data, as supplied by your energy provider. National Grid fully supports this linkage.

Making the ENERGY STAR® connection.

To get started on gathering energy data for grading, you’ll need to create a link between the EPA Portfolio Manager’s evaluative tools and your building’s energy-usage data, as provided by your utility:

Step 1:

  • Set up an account at the EPA Portfolio Manager site.
  • Link your EPA account with your utility provider’s records. For example, National Grid customers will choose “National Grid Web Services” when asked to identify their utility provider.
  • Grant permission to share your energy-use data. For this evaluation process, you need only share a building’s aggregate energy-usage statistics.

Step 2:

  • Once you’ve completed the Property Share procedure within the EPA Portfolio Manager, click on the link for the EPA Portfolio Manager Online Form to complete the registration with your provider (e.g., National Grid).

National Grid’s benchmarking program sign-up site provides detailed, step-by-step directions for making this connection with its Benchmarking Portal. Once you’re signed up, the Portfolio Manager will provide up to four years of quarterly energy analysis and grading.

Leverage your data to create an action plan.

Nearly 25 percent of commercial building space nationwide already benchmarks in Portfolio Manager. Using the tool, you can generate ENERGYSTAR performance documents for each building, share your performance data and run custom reports to get performance insights. Portfolio Manager gives you the ability to:

  • Identify underperforming properties.
  • Duplicate the energy-management best practices of your portfolio’s more efficient buildings.
  • Set investment priorities—allocating capital and projecting financial returns—for energy-reduction projects.
  • Implement a comprehensive management program—a roadmap—for achieving energy-management success.

A roadmap gets your closer to your energy-efficient destination.

“Landlords and managers can take short-term measures that don’t require a lot of capital. Things like boiler tune-ups, changing steam traps and valves on heating units, looking at HVAC and other system controls to achieve greater efficiencies,” says Laura McNeill, lead channel energy efficiency salesperson at National Grid. “Our Direct Install program provides simple equipment upgrades, such as showerhead, aerator and spray valve replacements.”

We’ve explained here how to meet the city’s grading requirements—and how National Grid can help. In our next report, we’ll dive into how National Grid works with Leidos, its energy-management solutions partner, to build energy-efficiency roadmaps and how they can navigate a path to reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. While the process requires some careful attention, it will help you get a higher grade and move to the head of the property management class.

Sources and Background:
[1] www.thecity.nyc/environment/2021/12/2/22790075/nyc-buildings-energy-efficiency-grades-put-to-the-test