Boston will become the eighth city in the country with an energy rating policy, following similar recent legislation in Philadelphia and Minneapolis.

The citywide building energy rating and disclosure policy, passed by the city council on May 8, applies to all commercial buildings 35,000 square feet or larger and residential buildings with 35 units or more. The ordinance requires building owners to report and disclose energy and water usage and greenhouse gas emissions and will cover approximately 1,600 buildings. The first reporting deadline is May 15, 2014, for commercial buildings 50,000 square feet or larger.

Energy rating and disclosure laws in Seattle, San Francisco, New York City, Austin, Texas, and Washington, D.C., have been in effect for more than a year, and are already producing results. Building owner participation in these cities is high (more than 75 percent uptake in Washington and 87 percent in Seattle so far). These cities also now have a year or more of energy use data on millions of square feet of building space and are starting to pinpoint where to target energy-saving programs and resources, according to a news release.

To ensure ease of compliance, Boston’s Environment and Energy Services is working with local utilities to develop a process that simplifies whole building data collection and reporting. In addition, if individual residential tenant data is unavailable to a building owner, the city will develop a proxy for building owners to use for their reporting. Some buildings also will be required to conduct energy assessments or other evaluations every five years to identify opportunities for energy efficiency investments. Buildings in the top tier of energy performance, those that are already taking significant efficiency actions, or those that meet other exemption criteria will be exempt from this requirement.

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