Whereas, about 18 percent of the U.S. population lives in multifamily buildings with five or more units,[ii] and about half of American renters spend between 30 and 50 percent of their income on rent and utilities;[iii] and
Whereas, the multifamily housing stock is, on average, older than the rest of the U.S. housing stock, contains older appliances, and is generally less energy efficient than other housing;[iv] and
Whereas, improving the energy efficiency of the existing multifamily stock is a key strategy to help preserve the affordability of rental multifamily units; and
Whereas, energy use benchmarking is a process that involves comparing the energy use of a building or group of buildings with other similar structures in a larger geographic area and determining how that energy use varies from a baseline;[v] and
Whereas, energy benchmarking is the foundation of a successful multifamily energy efficiency strategy and enables multifamily building owners to track energy performance over time, set energy performance goals, and justify cost-effective energy upgrades; and
Whereas, many multifamily building owners are currently unable to track the energy performance of their buildings, hampering their ability to identify potential opportunities for savings and justify upgrades; and
Whereas, energy benchmarking requires whole-building monthly energy consumption data; and
Whereas, many multifamily building owners cannot access energy consumption data for their entire building without the written consent of each metered tenant, impeding owners from benchmarking and taking further actions to reduce energy costs for residents; and
Whereas, to provide building owners with the data they need to benchmark, while protecting the privacy of individual tenants, several utilities[vi] nationwide are providing whole-building data through the aggregation of energy consumption data of all meters in a building, as long as there are more than a specified threshold number of accounts in the building, to help ensure privacy of tenant consumption data; and
Whereas, in order to protect the privacy of individual tenants, the specified threshold number of accounts for these purposes should be established by the state public utility commission; and
Whereas, the building owner must explicitly agree that any utility-provided aggregated information will only be used for the purpose of energy management in an effort to improve the efficiency of the building; and
Whereas, several utilities[vii] are utilizing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR automated benchmarking service, which enables direct transfer of utility energy data to a building owner’s account in ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, the most widely used benchmarking tool in the country; and
Whereas, benchmarking programs allow utilities to maximize the value of their energy efficiency portfolio by engaging customers and directing them to energy efficiency programs and by enabling utilities to target low-performing buildings, and
Whereas, energy reductions stemming from benchmarking can result in direct cost savings to customers and in peak load reductions that benefit all ratepayers; and
Whereas, more than 260,000 buildings were benchmarked by December 2011 using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager;[viii] and
Whereas, regulations in local jurisdictions, including the cities of Austin, New York, Seattle, and Washington, DC, require the benchmarking of privately-owned multifamily buildings;[ix]
Now, therefore, be it resolved, that NASUCA supports access by building owners and managers to whole-building energy consumption data to support energy-efficient building operations as long as all feasible measures to ensure the privacy of individual tenant data, including anonymized aggregation of the energy consumption data for any specific building, are adopted; and
Be it further resolved, that NASUCA urges state public utility commissions and utilities to consider a comprehensive benchmarking policy that includes:
- Use of automated benchmarking services;
- Developing methods to ensure that utility-funded energy efficiency programs properly track and credit savings that result from benchmarking programs they initiate and implement;
- Taking all reasonable measures to facilitate electronic access to utility energy usage data for building owners,
- Ensuring that aggregated building data does not reveal customer-specific data, including by review of the experience of other jurisdictions that have allowed release of aggregated data; or that customer-specific data is provided only after receiving fully informed customer consent.
Be it further resolved, that the Consumer Protection Committee of NASUCA, with the approval of the Executive Committee of NASUCA, is authorized to take all steps consistent with this resolution in order to secure its implementation.
Submitted by Consumer Protection Committee
Approved November 19, 2013
[i] EIA 2012 AEO Annual Energy Outlook Table 19; EIA 2009 RECS, Table CE1.1.
[ii] U.S. Census Bureau American Housing Survey of 2009.
[iii] Harvard University Joint Center for Housing Studies. America’s Rental Housing –Meeting Challenges, Building on Opportunities. April 2011.
[v] See “Benchmarking,” Energy Star Building Manual, ch. 2, p. 2 (rev’d April 2008), available at http://www.energystar.gov/ia/business/EPA_BUM_CH2_Benchmarking.pdf (last accessed April 8, 2013)
[vi] Utilities include Commonwealth Edison Co. (ComEd), ConEdison, Puget Sound Energy (PSE), and Pepco.
[vii] Utilities include ComEd, Pacific Gas and Electric, Puget Sound Energy, Southern California Edison, and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD)