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Boulder Breaks Ground on Commercial Energy Efficiency Benchmarking Program
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The City of Boulder adopted benchmarking and energy efficiency upgrade requirements for municipal buildings and privately owned commercial and industrial facilities on October 20, 2015. The requirements will apply to municipal buildings over 5,000 square feet, privately held existing buildings over 20,000 square feet and new commercial and industrial buildings over 10,000 square feet.

The requirements include energy audits and cost-effective upgrade and reporting requirements and will be phased in beginning in 2016. The first set of requirements relates to rating and reporting based on utility billing data. Energy efficiency requirements will be phased in over the next three years and include energy assessments, retro-commissioning (every 10 years) and lighting upgrades (one-time). The required lighting upgrades are meant to bring lighting in existing buildings up to the standards in the current International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). The ordinance will impact larger buildings over 50,000 square feet first and then smaller buildings over time. The ordinance exempts high-performance, energy-efficient buildings from the standard compliance path. City leaders expect the requirements to cut Boulder's greenhouse gas emissions 10 percent by 2050. 

Benchmarking buildings can produce meaningful and long lasting energy savings by tracking energy use over time, disclosing performance information, and encouraging energy efficiency upgrades. For these reasons, many states and local governments have adopted benchmarking requirements for public sector buildings in order to save money and realize environmental benefits.

Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) worked closely with Boulder throughout the stakeholder engagement and ordinance development process. Disclosure and energy upgrade requirements will maximize the energy and cost savings for the occupants of commercial buildings. SWEEP encourages other jurisdictions to move beyond voluntary programs and replicate the Boulder (and similar) models of mandatory benchmarking.

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