Boston Benchmarking Gaining Acceptance Tracking Your Community’s Energy Usage

In the business world, benchmarking is a management tool that is commonly used to analyze where one business stands in comparison to others in the same industry. For example, a doctor’s office might want to benchmark the practice to analyze a patient’s wait before seeing a doctor compared to the standard amount of minutes in their industry.

After finalizing their report, they might be surprised to find out that their patients wait an average of 15 minutes more than the national standard. Or they might be pleased to discover that their patients are moved along in less than a half hour, easily beating out the national 45-minute average. This information is vital to the success of the practice. Without knowing where they stand, they won’t know exactly what steps they need to take to improve and keep their patients happy.

Measuring Energy Usage

In the property management industry, benchmarking ordinances are now being used to measure a building’s energy usage and compare it to other similar buildings. Why? Because statistics show that buildings account for about two-thirds of total community greenhouse gas production, which traps heat in the atmosphere.

In May 2013, the Boston City Council approved a benchmarking ordinance requiring larger commercial and residential buildings to report annual energy and water usage to the city, which in turn will make this information available to the public.

This effort began with recommendations made in 2010 by then-Boston Mayor Tom Menino’s Climate Action Leadership Committee. By analyzing a building’s energy usage and comparing it to other buildings, a plan can be put into action to make energy-efficient improvements and, as a result, achieve the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.  The plan called for energy and water usage and greenhouse gas emissions to be reported for city buildings in 2013, small commercial buildings in 2014 and residential buildings with 50 or more units in 2015; non-residential buildings (over 35,000 square feet) in 2016 and residential buildings with 35 or more units in 2017. 

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