Buildings are a major source of energy use here in the United States. Commercial properties account for 40 percent of the nation’s energy consumption. As a result, green builders have focused on creating more energy-efficient buildings to help reduce the nation’s carbon footprint and to help companies save money on energy costs. However, quantifying the actual energy savings, not just the projected savings, is a process that is still being fine-tuned.

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has created a new program that will allow building owners to actual compare actual energy usage from building to building. The Building Energy Quotient program, Building EQ, will use two different ratings: As Designed and In Operation.

The As Designed rating is reserved for new buildings and will be given based on the projected energy savings. A second assessment can be completed after one year of actual performance data has been gathered. If it operates at an efficient level, the building can receive an In Operation rating.

ASHRAE is joining others in the green building industry that are looking beyond green building design and focusing on green building performance. With the newest version of the LEED rating systems, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) now mandates performance data reporting as part of ongoing LEED certification process.

ASHRAE is working with several businesses and organizations to develop the Building EQ program. Pilot participants include:

  • The Durst Organization
  • The U.S. General Services Administration
  • Wright Runstad and Co.
  • Ashforth Pacific in Portland, Ore.
  • BNIM Architects
  • Hines
  • The Detroit-Wayne Joint Building Authority
  • The Michigan Department of Management and Budget
  • Russell Development Co.
BNIM Architects desgined a project that may be familiar to MNN readers, the Omega Center for Sustainable Living (OCSL) in Rhinebeck, N.Y. The OCSL is a natural wastewater treatment plant that is working to achieve LEED for New Construction Platinum certification as well as meet the criteria in the Living Building Challenge program.

Another building that has made the news here at the Mother Nature Network in the past is One Bryant Park in New York City. One Bryant Park, also known as the Bank of America Tower, encompasses 2.1 million square foot in 52 stories.

The organizations and businesses represent geographic areas from coast-to-coast and in several different climates. A list of the actual properties that will be included in the pilot program can be downloaded from the ASHRAE Building EQ (PDF) site.

The data collected through the pilot program will enable designers to further improve upon their green building plans but also enable building owners to learn how to operate a more energy-efficient building.