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  • New York City's Benchmarking Law: Does It Go Far Enough and Is It Fair To Building Owners? | Larry Schnapf | Snapshot Column | the Sallan Foundation
    in inaccurate comparisons because they could be used by building owners to mask energy intensive building systems and tenant use However this approach may only be used for benchmarking reports for residential tenant spaces that must be filed in May 2012 and May 2013 compliance years 2011 and 2012 Beginning with compliance year 2013 owners must use actual values for non residential tenant spaces Problems with Portfolio Manager At the heart of the LL84 program is the EPA Portfolio Manager but there are concerns that this is not the best tool to measure and evaluate building performance The Portfolio Manager benchmarks buildings based on data collected from the Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey CBECS which is adjusted or normalized for weather variations and basic operating conditions Currently there are approximately 5 200 buildings in the CBECS inventory that were chosen to represent the entire stock of approximately 5 million commercial buildings in the United States The CBECS is supposed to be updated every four years by the federal Energy Information Agency EIA The most recent data is based on the results of the 2003 results EIA intended to update the data based on a 2007 CBECS but the agency recently announced that it had suspended that work because of statistical problems and that the 2011 CBECS was postponed because of budget cuts Thus buildings complying with LL84 are going to be compared to the energy performance metrics that were collected before the recent wave of high performance buildings became operational and this creates a risk of inflating a property s energy rating Another problem with the Portfolio Manager is that it appears to have insufficient classifications of building types The CBECS database categorizes commercial buildings into 12 major principal building activities or PBAs However many building owners and energy professionals feel that CBECS database does not properly take into account important differences among buildings based on large ranges in energy performance of buildings within a category For example for office buildings in the CBECS the EUI spell out ranges from 60 to 300 kBTU sf per year with a national average for the category of 92 9 kBTU sf per year These significant differences in energy consumption suggest that the CBECS building categories may too broad and encompass too many different buildings types within a particular category Another concern is that the CBECS database is biased towards smaller sized and older buildings More than one third the buildings in the database have less than 10 000 square feet and nearly three quarters of the buildings are more than 20 years old Another problem is that the CBECS inventory is limited to commercial buildings yet LL 84 also applies to residential buildings These multi family buildings pose their own unique set of problems since vacancy rates may vary and individual tenant energy consumption may vary considerably Unfortunately there simply is no data tool with a sufficient track record for benchmarking commercial and residential buildings Earlier this year ASTM did publish its

    Original URL path: http://www.sallan.org/Snapshot/2011/06/new_york_citys_benchmarking_law_does_it_go_far_enough_and_is_it_fair_to_building_owners_1.php (2016-02-10)
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  • Climate Change In The Supreme Court: Will Winners Be Losers? | Simon Wynn | Snapshot Column | the Sallan Foundation
    But months and then years passed with no decision Then Judge Sotomayor was appointed to the Supreme Court and not long after the two judges remaining on the panel that had heard the appeal Judges Hall and McLaughlin issued on September 21 2009 a unanimous decision overturning the District Court s dismissal of the lawsuits and remanding the case back for further hearing on the merits That was a momentous decision vindicating the States position in all respects Again unsurprisingly the defendants sought leave to appeal to the US Supreme Court which was granted Briefing is complete and the appeal will be heard on April 19th Because she was a member of the court that heard the appeal Justice Sotomayor will not take part in the Supreme Court s hearing thus leaving eight judges to decide the case In the event of a 4 4 split the Second Circuit s ruling would be upheld but the decision would have no particular weight outside the Circuit By the way New Jersey and Wisconsin who were originally among the plaintiff states pulled out when the appeal made its way to the Supreme Court doubtless reflecting changes in their administrations after the 2010 elections Back to the Supreme Court hearing Much to the dismay of the environmental community the Obama Administration filed a brief on behalf of the TVA a federal agency in which the Solicitor General the nation s top litigator argued against the states position that the defendants GHG emissions constituted a public nuisance But does the environmental community have it wrong A few points to note First the TVA had argued in the District Court and the Circuit that it was not liable to be sued because it was acting as a government agency carrying out a discretionary function in its power generation This was a dubious proposition at best the TVA generates and sells electricity in exactly the same way and at the same rates as other generators Yes the TVA is set up by federal law and has some special features of governance but it acts just like any power generator Why should it not be held accountable for its emissions on the same basis as the others The Solicitor General did not advance these arguments in its submission to the Supreme Court That shows that the Administration was taking a more nuanced position with respect to the States claims Second and most important the Administration argued that USEPA was now engaged in a rule making you can view the notice here on whether to issue source performance standards for GHG emissions from new and modified power plants That rule making was required under a settlement agreement with a number of States in State of New York et al v EPA which had challenged the standards previously set by EPA for power plants because they did not include GHG limitations The Administration argued that the rule making it had undertaken which is due to be complete by May

    Original URL path: http://www.sallan.org/Snapshot/2011/04/climate_change_in_the_supreme_court_will_winners_be_losers_1.php (2016-02-10)
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  • 2011 Green Priorities for Albany | Marcia Bystryn | Snapshot Column | the Sallan Foundation
    would create 5 000 MW of solar capacity in New York by 2025 create 20 billion in economic activity and result in 22 000 new long term jobs Improving the effectiveness of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative RGGI is another clean energy priority Launched in 2009 this 10 state pact established a regional cap on carbon dioxide to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and encourage a companion program on the federal level The ensuing years have seen no carbon trading progress in Washington while revealing some concerns with RGGI the initial carbon cap was set too high and auction proceeds intended for clean energy innovation have been siphoned off New York swept 90 million into its general fund In 2011 New York state leaders will need to re examine RGGI and make changes that ensure tangible emissions reductions and proper investment of the carbon auction proceeds Other important clean energy issues awaiting the next legislative session are reforming the Public Service Commission to give greater weight to clean energy and environmental goals ensuring the necessary infrastructure for use and distribution of renewable energy and developing a comprehensive energy plan that is environmentally sound As for sustainable economic development there are a number of steps the Cuomo administration and Legislature should take next year In 2010 Governor David Paterson signed the Smart Growth Public Infrastructure Policy Act which mitigates sprawl by instructing state agencies and authorities to align their infrastructure planning and spending with smart growth criteria To build on that success in 2011 the state should adopt legislation that establishes smart growth as a state priority Doing so would ensure that economic development land use transportation and housing planning are mutually supportive and help achieve the state s climate change goals Making sure that state agencies responsible for protecting the environment have the necessary resources to fulfill their core missions will be critical That means committing adequate staffing to the Department of Environmental Conservation the Department of Health and so on Necessary resources are also critical for the Environmental Protection Fund and the Farmland Protection Program both need adequate dedicated and stable support for the long term Finally transportation must be front and center in 2011 Dedicated funding for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority the nation s largest transit system which powers the economy of the entire state must be used for transportation purposes and not diverted to the general fund New revenues will need to be identified for the MTA s 2012 2014 capital plan and the state s economic development plan must include strategies that reduce carbon emissions and improve the efficiency of moving goods and people Without question there are difficult choices ahead The Office of New York State Comptroller estimates that the 2011 budget deficit could be 11 billion or more putting intense pressure on agencies to cut positions and costs DEC the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and all state funded entities will need to clearly identify their core missions and optimize their limited

    Original URL path: http://www.sallan.org/Snapshot/2010/12/2011_green_priorities_for_albany_1.php (2016-02-10)
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  • C40: Hammer In Hong Kong | Stephen A. Hammer, Ph. D | Snapshot Column | the Sallan Foundation
    means in a Chinese context where growth has been the paramount goal for the last 20 years See final paragraph below for related news I only attended the building sessions but thought the presentations were quite strong Wide diversity of cities were represented with sessions covering new build retrofits financing etc Interesting format where they had preselected some experts in the audience academics architects NGO representatives to reflect on what the presenters had to say Quality of the commentary was outstanding supplementing and sometimes challenging ideas put forward by the speakers Big new ideas that I heard I ve often been told that each day there are 2000 new cars on the road in Beijing In a city of 18 million no big surprise there But the Mayor of Changsha population 667 000 said that there are 1 000 new vehicles on the road in his city each day Key lesson cars are definitely a part of the new China dream despite efforts to reign in usage with expanded public transport system development Professor C C Chan President of the World Electric Vehicle Association said that although expectations are that EVs will make up 7 12 of the global automobile market by 2020 in China the adoption rate may reach 15 20 of all new car sales Berlin moving ahead aggressively to deploy CHP technology around the city surplus thermal energy will be pumped into the city s existing steam network They re hoping to deploy thousands of units in the next several years Officials from Tokyo talked about their new Cap Trade system the third mandatory C T system operating around the world only this one is focused specifically on 1100 commercial buildings and 200 industrial facilities in Tokyo These facilities collectively generate 40 of all commercial and industrial CO2 emissions in the city The cap established for the first five year period is a 6 reduction below the baseline year the period 2015 2019 will require a 17 reduction below the baseline year They hadn t expected to announce the 2015 2019 target for some time but they were regularly approached by companies asking for this information so they could begin planning their long term efficiency upgrade strategy The fact that a city has developed its own cap and trade system is obviously the big news here what type of devolution of power from central or state provincial government would it take to make such a system a reality in more cities around the world Responding to some of the presentations on retrofits an audience member from the Carbon Trust in the UK mentioned they have found that most building refurbishment projects have actually resulted in GREATER energy use than before a case of the rebound effect in action They ve isolated 24 issues cities should keep in mind when undertaking retrofit projects to minimize this problem I believe he said a report on the topic is available at www carbontrust co uk Australia continues to refine the

    Original URL path: http://www.sallan.org/Snapshot/2010/11/c40_hammer_in_hong_kong.php (2016-02-10)
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  • Disclosure: A Powerful Motivational Tool | Adam Hinge | Snapshot Column | the Sallan Foundation
    despite opening in 2002 and being described by its architect Foster Partners as a virtually nonpolluting public building Do we know how our recent crop of green buildings many certified through the US Green Building Council s LEED rating scheme are really performing from a measured energy and water perspective What are the real impacts of NYC Local Law 86 that requires all City owned or financed buildings to meet certain standards The benchmarking and disclosure law will provide great insight starting in the next few years Potential Challenges in Implementing the Benchmarking Bill Conceptually measuring and comparing building energy intensity should be simple collect all energy bills and divide by the floor area Unfortunately getting access to all energy consumption history can be challenging and it can be tough to get consistent floor area measurements in NYC buildings City agencies including the Department of Buildings Finance and the Mayor s Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability are now hard at work developing the rules and guidance to implement the new laws Making certain that the benchmarking law along with the others are implemented with both sufficient clarity in the regulations and adequate resources to meaningfully enforce the regulations is critical Without these the enthusiasm around passage of the bills may be misplaced Enforcement and compliance are known to be the Achilles heel of many energy efficiency policies see presentations from an International Energy Agency Energy Efficiency Compliance workshop Past experience suggests that New York s well intentioned and well designed legislation may disappoint supporters great expectations when agencies are underfunded and thus unable to have adequate staff for interpretation and enforcement Realistically the Greener Greater Buildings laws are essentially self policing getting the rules right will increase the odds for truly changing the markets toward greater energy efficiency The first few years of disclosed benchmark data are likely to be spotty It will be hard to really compare performance data until all respondents become conversant with reporting requirements particularly for multi family residential buildings where it will be a challenge to make sure all tenant meters are being counted To its credit the legislation recognizes the possibility that owners may not get full cooperation from all tenants Moving toward automated downloads of all consumption data from Con Edison could be a major step to overcoming that hurdle In California where AB 1103 has required disclosure to prospective parties to the transaction though not public disclosure of energy performance to parties in a real estate transaction this automated utility download system is working quite well More information on California s requirements as well as other jurisdictions requiring benchmarking and disclosure have been compiled by the Institute for Market Transformation Another challenge for New York s benchmarking law is found in dealing with large data centers and other significant process loads Some buildings have legitimate high energy consumption because these types of loads generate high economic value here particularly compared to the energy cost Having adequate guidance and flexibility to

    Original URL path: http://www.sallan.org/Snapshot/2010/10/disclosure_a_powerful_motivational_tool.php (2016-02-10)
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  • Finding the Proof of Energy Retrofits | Michael Bobker | Snapshot Column | the Sallan Foundation
    audits could be trusted Findings from studies conducted in 1995 and 1996 4 based on over 150 building retrofits showed the following Savings 5 from baseline of 24 26 at retrofit costs of 2 3 per square foot Overall average 5 1 year actual payback versus 3 8 year projected by audits But there is a catch While the results for the overall set were good the outcome for any particular building fell within a wide range from predicted Savings outcomes were seen to fall almost equally on either side of a line representing a 1 1 correspondence of predicted to actual savings often with substantial variation Was this uncertainty in outcomes a function of audit error prediction or of retrofit performance The answer turns out to be some of both Audits done under the LoanSTAR program by independent engineering consultants were subject to TAMU standards but nevertheless problems in savings estimates were found in some 20 30 of cases reviewed Such savings estimates were made subject to post hoc adjustment which is to say that new predictions were developed based on engineering analysis and used for comparison to actual results But it was also found that systems were often not operating as intended and that performance could be improved by adjustment In the following plot of a sample of buildings again with the black line showing a 1 1 correspondence of audit projected savings to actual performance vertical lines show sites where savings estimates were adjusted without change in performance and horizontal lines show sites where savings estimates were unchanged but performance was improved by system adjustment Figure 2 adds to the picture from Figure 1 by showing adjustments over time We can see in this chart the significant opportunity to improve post retrofit system performance Interestingly performance improvement can be achieved almost as frequently in cases that were exceeding predicted performance as in those cases that were under performing in relation to prediction One important lesson here was that the predictability of savings for any specific site could be improved by follow up based on Measurement and Verification M V acting as feedback on the implementation process and on going operations A second lesson learned is that beyond just predictability in meeting audit projections absolute project performance could be improved The tendency of project performance to degrade over time as controls and settings slip out of adjustment for example could be reversed by keeping operators alert to performance With M V based monitoring applied in this way the overall portfolio performed over time by 20 better than the total of the audit projections 6 Continuous Commissioning The value of M V applied as process feedback led to the concept of Continuous Commissioning eventually trademarked by ESL TAMU Commissioning savings could be attributed to the adjustment work independently of the retrofit project and were understood to constitute as much as 25 of portfolio savings and at much lower cost In the LoanSTAR program commissioning was deployed in retrofit projects

    Original URL path: http://www.sallan.org/Snapshot/2010/08/finding_the_proof_of_energy_retrofits.php (2016-02-10)
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  • Green Buildings & Perverse Incentives | Albert F. Appleton | Snapshot Column | the Sallan Foundation
    but now clash with green building ideals Even systems like LEEDs can become bureaucratically clumsy and formalistic discouraging innovation and constraining the ability of green buildings measure to lower total building costs Two obstacles that green buildings face deserve special discussion The first is the deep American cultural bias in favor of making new stuff instead of better managing what is already there Many have argued that cultural bias is not strictly a perverse incentive But one need not take sides in that theoreticians debate to recognize that the consequences of cultural bias and perverse economic and regulatory incentives are basically the same If out of a cultural bias in favor of the new one opts for a non sustainable course of action the result is the same as if that choice was driven by a perverse economic structure At least one recent study has suggested that many LEED building have not obtained their anticipated energy use savings due to failures of routine building systems management Sophisticated managers know that many small operational changes consistently pursued often add up to more savings than facility retrofits and are easier and faster to implement They also know that supposedly cutting edge technologies must be designed with an eye to ease of operation But making something new too often seems more exciting than making something existing work better The second obstacle is by any definition a perverse incentive Green energy and energy conservation are at the heart of societal hopes for green buildings But they directly compete on price against black energy the various forms of hydrocarbon combustion Black energy sources all benefit from a large array of perverse incentives including the greatest perverse incentive of all externalization of pollution costs The more the costs of black energy are lowered by perverse incentives the harder it is to make green energy economically viable even with its own subsidies Where this is of the most immediate concern for the New York green buildings industry is in the support the New York State government is currently giving to the development of what the natural gas industry calls unconventional natural gas sources meaning natural gas obtained by new technologies of shale fracking Unfortunately unlike conventional natural gas sources shale fracking comes with major environmental costs in damage to water resources and rural landscapes This gives natural gas from shale fracking and 90 of future natural gas drilling is projected to be shale gas fracking an enormous price subsidy one that represents nothing less than a stab in the back for green energy and thus for green buildings For New York State to be promoting shale fracked natural gas obtained at the price of water resources such as the New York City watershed and rural landscapes such as the Finger Lake wine country is an extraordinary example of perverse incentives The green buildings industry needs to recognize this and as a matter of pure self interest join in the battle to stop pollution externalizing shale fracking For

    Original URL path: http://www.sallan.org/Snapshot/2010/06/green_buildings_perverse_incentives_1.php (2016-02-10)
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  • The Switch: A Green Reporter's New Beat | Alec Appelbaum | Snapshot Column | the Sallan Foundation
    as his most patient and honorable sources my best sources are usually scientists economists and entrepreneurs As this suggests most of my writing is about business my readers tend to be landlords owner s reps architects and the consultants they hire And as this suggests I work green stories in shades of gray There are few clear ethical markers on this mixed up new beat The new environmental reporter is less heroic and more plodding than someone in the Rachel Carson mode most of the time she s trying to clarify the difference between two business strategies or demystify the slowness of a bureaucracy But people watch each of us as closely and spit as fiercely as the chemical companies watched Carson when she exposed their fraud I revere the muckrakers who are crying out the news that mining still sickens and exploits people in low income countries that Big Oil companies still buy policy that pollution disproportionately harms the poor But when I walk my beat I use a different compass or now a GPS unit I use the language of economics and finance to document how the environment now consists of the mix between natural phenomena and engineered processes This is a corollary search for a fair deal and one that expands on other journalists work exposing cheats We re generally chasing a pretty elegant number what is the price of carbon and we do our job when we inspire careful thought Every story expands the audience and reduces the circle in which a reporter can choose to soften terms to keep readers mellow Once writing about the threshold level of demand that would trigger electricity pricing that varies hourly I simplified some highly technical language to make it easier for readers As a result an electrical engineer wrote my editor s editor to fine tune the phrasing I got a proper rebuke and what had seemed momentarily like a heroic effort to bring electricity pricing into the mainstream became that journalist s nightmare a correction If I had been writing about efforts to save the spotted owl I would have had the same obligation to blend accuracy with clarity but there would have been less money at stake so experts may have cut me slack on ambiguous phrasing On the new environmental beat we re talking about huge economic stakes which means that what we record shoot or quote stirs intense interest from many camps The transition is jerky Two noble liberal publications assigned liked and paid in full for stories in the past year that they never published both they said were too evenhanded to fit into their pages For editors who think environmental stories must have heroes and villains or scenic backdrops the new environmental beat can look forbidding That s why the new environmental reporter s job which I scarcely have begun to do is to show how every light switch parking space and zoning ordinance is the beginning of a story that a

    Original URL path: http://www.sallan.org/Snapshot/2010/04/the_switch_a_green_reporters_new_beat.php (2016-02-10)
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