By Steve Rizer
Owners of commercial buildings, their tenants, architects, and engineers all are expected to benefit from a recently expanded building energy labeling program that, among other things, can help facilitate compliance with local and state requirements compelling disclosure of energy use.
The voluntary Building Energy Quotient (bEQ) program, developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), now has an As Designed label to complement its In Operation counterpart. The new As Designed label rates a building’s potential energy use under standardized conditions, independent of the building’s occupancy and usage, whereas the In Operation label rates actual measured energy use as influenced by the building’s occupancy and usage. But how does the program benefit various professionals within the construction community?
“Owners, tenants, potential owners and tenants, and building managers need to have the information necessary to make informed decisions about the energy use of the existing buildings where we live, work, and play,” said Amy Musser, a consulting engineer in Ashville, N.C., and chairperson of ASHRAE’s bEQ Committee. “BEQ allows commercial building owners to zero in on opportunities to lower building operating cost and make informed decisions to increase value. It also allows potential buyers or tenants to gain insight into the value and potential long-term cost of a building.”
The building owner will be given a dashboard that provides a quick overview of the building’s energy usage and a certificate that contains additional technical information to explain the score on the label and that could be used to satisfy compliance with state and local disclosure requirements.
Documentation accompanying the label and certificate provides “the background information useful for engineers, architects, and technically savvy building owners or prospective owners” in determining the current state of the building and opportunities for improving its energy use, according to ASHRAE.
The As Designed label is based on the results of an energy model with standardized inputs as compared to a baseline median energy use intensity. The rating is based on simulated energy use. Because the label compares a building under a standardized set of operating assumptions, it is considered a useful tool for tenants who want to compare different buildings without including effects of the current occupants as well as for operators to know whether they are achieving the full designed potential for a particular building. To receive an As Designed rating, a standardized energy model must be performed by an ASHRAE-certified building energy modeling professional.
For the In Operation label, an in-operation assessment includes an ASHRAE Level I Energy Audit conducted by an ASHRAE-certified building energy assessment professional in addition to recommendations for energy-improvement measures. The rating focuses on the building’s actual energy use for the preceding 12-18 months and is based on actual operating data. ASHRAE believes this helps building owners and operators see how a building’s energy usage compares to the energy usage of a median baseline building and highlights their buildings' potential for energy performance improvement.