Capital's buildings get greener

Washington, D.C., building owners will start measuring the energy use of commercial properties under a new law aimed at reducing energy use and costs for building owners and tenants.



Starting Jan. 1, 2010, Washington, D.C., building owners will begin measuring the energy use of commercial properties under a new law aimed at reducing energy use and costs for building owners and tenants.

The new law directs all commercial buildings to measure their energy use with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) Energy Star Portfolio Manager tool. Building owners and managers already measuring energy use say it helps them make low-or-no-cost improvements and gives them a competitive edge in this tight real estate market.


Washington Monument

Washington Monument

Buildings consume more than 70% of the electricity used in the District and energy is a major expense of commercial building owners and tenants. Realizing the enormous energy savings potential in buildings starts with measuring energy use.

Building owners can slash energy costs significantly with low-cost energy saving measures such as fine-tuning heating and cooling systems, replacing lights and installing motion sensors.

Under the new law, passed in 2008, building owners will publicly disclose energy ratings starting in 2012, which will give prospective tenants and buyers an easy-to-understand way to compare the energy consumption and operating costs of buildings.

Energy ratings can make properties more profitable
According to new academic research, energy-efficient buildings have higher occupancy rates, fetch higher rents, and sell for more than comparable but less efficient buildings.

• According to a March 2008 national study by the CoStar Group , rental rates in Energy Star-labeled buildings command a $2.40/sq ft premium over similar non-labeled buildings and have 3.6% higher occupancy rates. Report authors also found Energy Star buildings are selling for an average of $61/sq ft more than their peers.
• A 2009 national study by University of California at Berkeley found that buildings with the Energy Star label sold for 16% more than identical buildings without such labels.
• A November 2009 study by the University of San Diego of the 154 buildings under CB Richard Ellis Group's management found that Energy Star buildings have 3.5% lower vacancy rates and 13% higher rental rates than the market average.

Other cities' laws
Other cities have passed similar laws. Read about:
San Francisco
New York City


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