In September, 2022, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) issued an order requiring the owner or operator of every commercial building over 25,000 square feet in the state to benchmark their energy and water use as part of an effort to spur energy efficiency.
Building owners must use the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s online Portfolio Manager Tool to measure and analyze their respective facilities’ energy and water usage. NJBPU’s website has information about how to report benchmarking. The first benchmarking submissions are due on Oct. 1, 2023, for energy and water consumed in 2022. Portfolio Manager is a FREE tool from the EPA that enables owners to input data and measure and monitor consumption.
“This is the next important step in implementing a best in class, statewide, energy efficiency program which will help us achieve Governor Murphy’s goal of 100% clean energy by 2050,” said NJBPU President Joseph L. Fiordaliso. “Creating a system of benchmarking allows us to measure the use of energy (electricity and gas) and water by the state’s biggest buildings and support building owners in reducing energy and water usage and operating costs.”
Benchmarking is intended to help commercial building owners and operators measure and analyze their respective facilities’ energy and water usage and compare it to other similar buildings. Building owners and operators can use this information to make informed decisions about taking advantage of financial incentives for energy efficiency improvements.
The NJBPU initiative is directed by the New Jersey’s Energy Master Plan, which calls for transparent benchmarking and energy labeling. The program it intended to enable building owners to obtain aggregated, building-level energy and water data from their utility companies through a data access service. The Board will also establish a “help desk” to assist building owners as they measure and analyze their respective buildings’ energy and water performance.
This program will also protect individual ratepayers’ energy and water use information by requiring utilities to securely provide aggregated, building-level data. Building owners are required to obtain their tenants’ affirmative, written consent for the utilities from which they receive services to provide building-level energy and water data to the building owner in certain situations to protect individual energy and water use information.
Consent will be required only when there are fewer than four tenants in a building or if one tenant exceeds 50% of the energy or water consumption.
More information about building benchmarking through NJBPU is available at https://njcleanenergy.com/commercial-industrial/programs/energy-benchmarking.
Food For Thought – NJ through the NJBPU Order joins California and Washington state as well as over 42 cities and 2 counties in requiring some form of energy and water disclosure mandate. While many do not like being forced to report which is understandable, having this mandate will enable the State and tenants to better access which buildings are more efficient than others when it comes to energy and water consumption that are often paid for by common area charges assessed to these tenants. If and to the extent the SEC’s proposed rules on climate disclosure become effective, having a tool that allows for measurement and verification of various data sets will help bolster various companies ability to measure, verify and report on such data in the energy, water, waste, recycling, materials and air quality space.
Duane Morris has an active ESG and Sustainability Team to help organizations and individuals plan, respond to, and execute on your Sustainability and ESG planning and initiatives. We would be happy to discussion your proposed project and how these new rules might apply to you. For more information or if you have any questions about this post, please contact Sheila Rafferty-Wiggins, Brad A. Molotsky, Alice Shanahan, Jeff Hamera, Nanette Heide, Joel Ephross, Jolie-Anne Ansley, Robert Montejo, Seth Cooley, David Amerikaner or the attorney in the firm with whom you in regular contact or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.