There is little doubt that our planet’s health has become a top priority over the past few years. Environmental, social and corporate governance, often known as ESG, are a set of operational standards that reveal how “responsible” a company is and impact on the environment is of special focus right now. Buildings face pressure from tenants who want to work or live in a place that is doing good for the planet, from owners who want to increase the value of the buildings, and from investors who want to improve their portfolio. In addition, international efforts like participation in the Paris Agreement for climate change are advancing expectations about lowering buildings’ carbon emissions. If that wasn’t enough motivation to change the operations of buildings, there is also pressure coming from new legislation.
Local Law 97 in New York City is one such example. LL97 requires nearly 60,000 of the city’s buildings to reduce their carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2030. But that’s not all, the buildings must grow that percentage to 80 percent by 2050. This would have a grand impact on the city’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions since buildings account for almost 70 percent of the city’s GHG. Starting in 2024, the owners of non-compliant buildings will face fines for a variety of reasons. For example, the penalty for a missed emissions report is $0.50/sq.ft. per month which means a 100,000 sq.ft. building would accumulate a penalty of $50,000 per month.
Part of the Climate Mobilization Act, LL97 is the focal point of ten bills included in the largest climate solution put forth by any city in the world. Also part of the larger act are:
- Local Law 92 and Local Law 94 which require all new buildings and those undergoing major roof renovations to be covered with solar panels, green roofs, or a combination.
- Local Law 95 which amends the ranges for how energy efficiency grades are calculated for display near a public entrance, including both a letter grade and an energy efficiency score.
- Local Law 96 which establishes long-term, low-interest Property-Assessed Clean Energy financing to fund upgrades to building energy and water efficiency.
Just a few hours south of NYC is Washington, DC. which has the Clean Energy DC Omnibus Act. DC’s buildings account for 74 percent of the city’s GHG but was also honored in 2017 as the world’s first LEED Platinum City. The goals outlined in this act include reducing the city’s GHG by 939,000 metric tons annually via mandatory building energy efficiency standards that increase over time. Buildings that do not meet compliance within five years will be fined.
Improving buildings’ energy efficiency and, therefore, decreasing the negative impact on the environment, or even reversing it, is an admirable and lofty goal. New York City is an old city, too; the median age of a surviving residential building is nearly 90 years old and the oldest building in the city, The Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum in Brooklyn, was started around 1652. Similarly, DC buildings have a median age of 100, with the oldest unchanged building being the Old Stone House in Georgetown, NW DC. There is a lot of history in both cities, but these old buildings are also a huge challenge in meeting new demands.
There are many ways to modify buildings to decrease their negative impact on the environment but many of them are costly to put into action. Retrofitting older buildings with newer, more efficient equipment just isn’t an option to every building owner. However, there are ways to save money and realize large cuts in energy usage without adding new expensive physical infrastructure.
The most efficient way to positively evolve buildings is through monitoring current data and creating processes that evolve the data already known into actionable information. Understanding how much energy is used in a building can be measured easily by a meter but it doesn’t share where that energy is being used, making it impossible to discover inefficiencies or errors in the building’s operation. For example, if lights are supposed to turn off when an area is unoccupied, the energy data from a meter won’t reveal if that is indeed happening at night when the building is empty. However, sensors can share that information with owners and operators as well as many other types of useful data.
But, is knowing data and turning it into actionable information enough to make the big changes these buildings need to do within the next few years? Or will they turn up short of their goals?
The truth is that data alone isn’t enough to progress the buildings of New York City, Washington DC or any other city around the world to meet their goals. Knowing the current situation and knowing what needs to be done are absolutely the first steps in moving towards accomplishing goals. However, to get there, integrating data into one consolidated dashboard where operators and owners can see a holistic view of their property is necessary and that’s not readily available.
This is where Envio Systems is a differentiator in whether buildings are able to meet their goals, avoid fines, and make a difference in the health of the planet. Envio not only has accurate and precise data that is the foundational layer of making positive change, but brings it all together in a way so sources communicate with each other and operators and owners are empowered to steadily progress towards what LL97 or the Clean Energy DC Omnibus Act, or the many other legislations like them, demand.
If you’re looking at a fast-approaching deadline, don’t wait until it’s too late to make improvements that make a difference. Talk to us and let’s make sure you cross the finish line a winner.