As global green initiatives continue to increase and energy efficiency remains a priority, the question of energy usage disclosure has become a highly contested issue. As its name suggests, energy usage disclosure is the requirement that building managers report the total energy consumption rates of their respective properties.
Much of the country already complies with such informational reporting (specifically Northeastern states), however California, due to state law AB 1103, and Chicago now require that commercial building owners disclose their energy use. Other major cities, including New York, Austin, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. are making it mandatory for owners of buildings larger than 50,000 square feet to publicly release their operating data and energy expenditures. As always, there are two sides to every story and pros and cons exist.
Full disclosure of energy usage appears to be a rather obvious requirement. Consumption totals can be utilized to monitor architectural design compliance by existing structures, as well as set benchmarks for future projects. Energy information that is freely shared can also be used for marketing and promotional purposes as fierce competition continues in the commercial real estate sector.
Is there a downside to energy usage disclosure? Possibly. Properties, especially properties for lease, can potentially lose market value if their respective totals fall short expectations for like buildings. The question of jurisdiction also comes into play: Should energy usage be monitored by individual states, or exclusively on the federal level? If performance initiatives are established, can full disclosure create a theoretical “black list” of underperformers?
Two Sides to Consider
Both sides of the argument merit consideration, each with strong arguments. What do you think? Should energy use disclosure be a prerequisite for all new building projects? Should there be a pro-rated requirement for existing properties? Or is it simply another issue that state and federal government don’t need to be involved in? Is there such a thing as too much information — or being required to offer too much information?