Energy performance leads the way
By Kelley Beamer
Cascadia Green Building Council
Here in Oregon we like labels. We want our gifts to be "Made in Oregon," and we want to know if our wine is "salmon-safe." At the grocery store, we compare nutritional labels to determine calories and ingredients. At the car dealership we compare fuel efficiency by miles per gallon.
But while we've made great strides in consumer labeling for food and cars, our building industry is just catching up. When consumers purchase or lease a building in Oregon — perhaps one of the most significant investments a person might make — there is typically little to no information provided about how that building is likely to perform related to energy use.
The good news is that there is an emerging interest in sharing building performance information with consumers. Energy performance scores, or energy performance rating systems, provide consumers with building performance information by disclosing the relative energy efficiency of a home or building.
These rating systems can include data from modeled energy use at site, estimated amount of greenhouse gas emissions and an estimated monthly cost of energy use. Just as we compare nutritional labels, or miles per gallon in a car, an energy performance rating system allows consumers to compare the energy performance of a house, office space for lease or building for purchase.
From a consumer point of view, this is critical. This embedded cost of energy in a building includes a price tag that is far beyond what is paid for at point of sale, especially as we look at a likely future with rising energy costs. Energy scores provide a comprehensive perspective on a building.
As Cascadia Green Building Council’s Oregon Advocacy and Outreach Manager, Kelley Beamer works with the state’s sustainability community to create a positive environmental influence through the built environment. You can reach Beamer at email@example.com, or 503-228-5533 xt2#.
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