Operators of large commercial buildings (over 25K square feet) now required to benchmark energy and water use

The owner or operator of every commercial building over 25,000 square feet in the state will be required to benchmark energy and water use using the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Portfolio Manager tool, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities said in an order that was released Wednesday.

The act is required by the New Jersey Clean Energy Act, which was signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy in 2018. The first benchmarking submissions are due Oct. 1, 2023, for energy and water consumed in 2022.

This board initiative also is directed by Goal 3.3.2 of the Energy Master Plan, which calls for transparent benchmarking and energy labeling to spur market-driven energy efficiency improvements.

The BPU said the program helps commercial building owners and operators measure and analyze their respective facilities’ energy and water usage and compare it to other similar buildings. Building owners and operators can use this information to make informed decisions about taking advantage of financial incentives for energy efficiency improvements through state and utility programs.

In particular, the program will enable building owners to obtain aggregated, building-level energy and water data from their utility companies through a data access service. The BPU said it also will establish a “help desk” to assist building owners as they measure and analyze their respective buildings’ energy and water performance.

Need help?

New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program offers assistance to building owners to benchmark their buildings. This service is available to building owners who are not required to benchmark under the Clean Energy Act.

For more information, click here.

NJBPU President Joe Fiordaliso said the initiative is a step toward the state’s clean energy goals.

“This is the next important step in implementing a best-in-class, statewide energy efficiency program which will help us achieve Gov. Murphy’s goal of 100% clean energy by 2050,” he said. “Creating a system of benchmarking allows us to measure the use of energy (electricity and gas) and water by the state’s biggest buildings and support building owners in reducing energy and water usage and operating costs.”

This program also will protect individual ratepayers’ energy and water use information by requiring utilities to securely provide aggregated, building-level data. Building owners are required to obtain their tenants’ affirmative, written consent for the utilities from which they receive services to provide building-level energy and water data to the building owner in certain situations to protect individual energy and water use information. Consent will be required only when there are fewer than four tenants in a building or if one tenant exceeds 50% of the energy or water consumption.

For more information about building benchmarking through NJBPU, click here.