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Constructing Your Building Performance Standards Compliance Program

Here are key aspects of leading ordinances, including reporting obligations, performance standards and upgrades, and strategies to prepare if building performance standards (BPS) come to your city or state.

Building performance standards (BPS) are emerging outcome-based policy tools aimed at reducing GHG emissions from the built environment. A BPS may be adopted by state or local governments and applied to existing commercial and/or multifamily buildings. As of December 2023, multiple jurisdictions have passed BPS policies, including Washington, D.C.; New York City; Denver; and Washington state, and several more are exploring such policies.

APTIM provides services to support BPS compliance, and in this article, we share key aspects of leading ordinances, including reporting obligations, performance standards and upgrades, and strategies to prepare if, and more likely when, a BPS comes to your city or state.

Build-Up to BPS

Building stocks in the US are generally old and inefficient, and they contribute to a vast amount of direct and indirect greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In 2012–2013, the median ages of a US home and commercial building were estimated to be 37 years and 32 years, respectively. Slow turnover rates mean that much of the built environment will be around 70 years old by 2050. To address inefficient energy use by these buildings and support climate action goals and targets, states and cities across the country are enacting performance standards that require buildings to reduce energy use or emissions over time.

BPS began appearing in the mid-2010s with compliance dates ranging from 2024 to the 2030s, varying by jurisdiction. While many building owners may have been tracking energy performance to save on utilities, BPS ordinances make benchmarking more important and legally-binding than ever. Compliance requirements vary depending on building size, with requirements typically starting with larger commercial buildings and gradually expanding to smaller ones.

Paving Your Pathway to Compliance

Performance standards and targets set in BPS ordinances are challenging but achievable. Most focus on accessing renewable energy; electrifying heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems; and swapping light fixtures. Specific retrofits to meet these goals may include:

  • Improving building insulation
  • Installing solar panels as an energy source
  • Retrofitting HVAC systems and controls
  • Switching building systems and appliances from gas to electric
  • Changing lighting fixtures to LED lighting
  • Installing energy-efficient windows

Pathways to compliance often require third-party validation and/or encourage outside advisors to manage the priorities of building owners and individual tenants. As a holistic environmental and resilience solutions provider with more than a decade of experience delivering energy efficiency and renewable energy management solutions, the APTIM team is here to help. In addition to our turnkey consulting services, APTIM recommends the following measures to get started with BPS compliance:

  • Review your building’s classification. Make sure your state/local BPS law applies to your building. If you are a tenant, confirm your building owner’s awareness of the BPS law and their plan to achieve compliance.
  • Commission a study of building performance. Most BPS require benchmarking of a building’s current emissions output and energy usage. Determine whether it is anticipated that the building will violate the BPS based on the timeline of the law.
  • Determine and evaluate solutions. Each building is different and there is no one-size-fits-all solution to achieve compliance with BPS requirements. Consider working with a trusted advisor with experience in energy efficiency and renewable energy management solutions.
  • Examine options for financing improvements and retrofits. For qualified building owners, a wide variety of different rebates, grant programs, and tax incentives are available. APTIM’s dedicated team of state and federal funding experts, trusted advisors, and skilled collaborators can help you identify, obtain, and manage the complex grants critical to achieving your goals.

Construct Your BPS Compliance Program with APTIM

Whether it is safeguarding and maintaining critical infrastructure; decarbonizing utility programs; or helping clients design and implement meaningful environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives, APTIM strives to deliver adaptive solutions for our clients each day. Our goal is to empower our clients to realize meaningful environmental impacts, while helping them meet their organizational goals and objectives.

Learn more about our sustainability services to support your BPS Compliance.

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