Columbia Law School Center for Climate Change Law: ASTM Releases Standard for Measuring Energy Performance of Commercial Buildings in Real Estate Transactions

Columbia Law School Center for Climate Change Law: ASTM Releases Standard for Measuring Energy Performance of Commercial Buildings in Real Estate Transactions

Columbia Law School Center for Climate Change Law

J. Cullen Howe   By J. Cullen Howe, Environmental Law Specialist, Arnold & Porter LLP

On February 10, 2011, ASTM released its Building Energy Performance Assessment (BEPA) Standard – E 2797-11.  This standard enables users to measure the energy performance of a commercial building in connection with a real estate transaction.  ASTM develops voluntary standards in a variety of fields.  The standard was developed in part because of an increasing number of local and state governments which are adopting regulations that require reporting on building energy usage, either at regular intervals or before a property sale.  For example, as previously reported in this blog, San Francisco recently passed an ordinance that will require commercial buildings to measure, rate, and report their energy performance.  In addition, a New York City law requires all private buildings over 50,000 square feet to periodically measure and report their energy use goes into effect in May 2011.

The standard is designed to offer guidelines to promote consistency when collecting a building’s energy usage data, such as collecting building characteristic data; collecting data regarding a building’s energy use over 1-3 years or since the latest major renovation; analyzing variables to determine what constitutes the average, upper limit, and lower limit of a building’s energy use and cost conditions; determining pro forma building energy use and cost; and communicating a building’s energy use and cost information in a report.  The standard includes the following five components: (1) site visit; (2) records collection; (3) review and analysis; (4) interviews; and (5) preparation of a report.

The standard is designed to be used in connection with programs such as LEED and Energy Star, but is not a certification or benchmarking tool.  The data collected under the standard offers more detail than a Energy Star rating and, unlike LEED certification, can be used to assess energy use within the time constraints of a real estate transaction.

One of the options available to users of the standard is to identify government-sponsored energy efficiency grants and incentive programs that may be available for any energy efficiency improvements that could be installed at the building, thereby increasing its value and making it more attractive to potential buyers.

Reprinted with permission from Green Building Law Update Service.

The Green Building Law Update Service is a 2011 LexisNexis Top 50 Blogs for Environmental Law & Climate Change nominee.

J. Cullen Howe is an environmental law specialist at Arnold & Porter LLP. Much of Cullen's work focuses on climate change, where he attempts to educate lawyers and the public at large on the enormous cooperation necessary to adequately address this problem. In addition to his work on climate change, Cullen is the managing editor of Environmental Law in New York, edits the Environmental Law Practice Guide, Brownfields Law and Practice, the Environmental Impact Review in New York, and has drafted chapters in the Environmental Law Practice Guide on climate change and green building. Mr. Howe is a graduate of Vermont Law School, where he was the managing editor of the Vermont Law Review, and a graduate of DePauw University, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

These publications can be purchased at the Store by clicking on the above links. subscribers may also access them at the following links: Environmental Law in New York; Environmental Law Practice Guide; Brownfields Law and Practice; Environmental Impact Review in New York.

J. Cullen Howe is the author of Green Financing: Governmental and Private Programs Concerning Financing of Green Buildings, Ch. 2M, in Real Estate Financing (Lexis treatise), and will be discussing this development in his next update for the treatise. subscribers may also access comprehensive Green Building materials at All Green Buildings Analytical Materials, Legal News, Surveys & Briefs.

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