Will Energy Usage Data Lead to Different Behavior and Alter Investment?

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As expected, the City Council passed the four pieces of legislation that together comprise the Greener, Greater Buildings Plan.  The four bills – lighting, benchmarking, NYC energy conservation code, and energy audits and retro-commission – together aim to lower the energy and water usage of existing buildings in New York City.

We have previously discussed the details of the bills, but a concept behind two of the bills could benefit from further exploration.

The benchmarking bill and submetering component of the lighting bill each aim to produce something that previously had not been readily available – data.  Information about the energy and water usage of a building and its tenants will now be accessible.

Decisions on investing in property, entering into and renewing leases, and many other assessments in the real estate world will now have a new powerful metric – the ability to compare the costs of operating and managing a building.

Previously, getting property owners and tenants to focus on energy and water efficiency has been difficult.  The discussions centered on the cost of sustainability measures.  The cost of not enacting sustainability measures was hard to quantify.

With the new data that will be generated by these bills, a building’s performance will be exposed.  This will allow sustainability measures to be defined and subsequently assigned value.  Once they are assigned value, sustainability and energy efficiency will move from nebulous concepts that people talk about to concrete solutions that people will act on – either in the form of investment decisions, or by altering their energy usage.

This ability to monetize the benefits of green building and sustainability will further propel these approaches into the mainstream.  We await to see how the market reacts…