Colorado Enacts Building Energy Benchmarking and Performance Standards

Source: RL Martin

As part of a suite of legislation to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from buildings, the Colorado General Assembly passed and Governor Polis signed House Bill 21-1286 Energy Performance for Buildings that will require owners of commercial, multifamily, and public buildings of 50,000 square feet or larger to report their buildings’ annual energy use starting in 2022.  By October 2021, the Colorado Energy Office will start convening a diverse stakeholder group of building professionals, owners, utilities, industry, local government representatives, and others to develop and make recommendations for building performance standards (BPS) for achieving a seven percent reduction in GHG by 2025 and 20 percent by 2030 relative to a 2021 baseline in buildings subject to benchmarking.  Owners will need to demonstrate that their buildings comply with the BPS during 2026 and every five years thereafter, with opportunities for the state to modify BPS requirements.

Colorado joins a growing number of states and localities implementing building benchmarking and is only the second state after Washington to enact state-wide BPS; Washington, DC and several other localities also have BPSs. In contrast to building energy codes that apply to new construction and major renovations, BPS is viewed as a key tool to improve the energy and GHG performance of existing buildings. Among resources for states, NASEO offers a benchmarking page while EPA provides a benchmarking and BPS toolkit. In addition, NASEO’s State and Local Building Policies and Programs for Energy Efficiency and Demand Flexibility explores how demand flexibility can be incorporated into benchmarking, labelling, BPS, codes, and other building policies and programs.