CSG Law Alert: Annual Energy and Water Benchmarking Reporting Requirements for Commercial Buildings Larger than 25,000 Square Feet to Take Effect October 1, 2023

On September 7, 2022, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) issued a Board Order approving an energy and water use benchmarking program for commercial buildings over 25,000 square feet. The first benchmarking data submission deadline is expected to be October 1, 2023, covering usage for the 2022 calendar year.

The Board Order is issued in accordance with the New Jersey Clean Energy Act of 2018, which requires such benchmarking no later than five years after the Act’s enactment. The annual benchmarking will encompass the prior calendar year of energy and water usage and will use the United States Environmental Protection Agency Energy Star Program’s online Portfolio Manager tool. The Board Order approves staff recommendations on the elements of the benchmarking program, including the development of a list of covered buildings and potential exemptions. The Board Order also addresses stakeholders’ comments and the NJBPU’s responses following a stakeholder process on a straw proposal for benchmarking policy and implementation.

Following the Board Order, the NJBPU anticipates developing the benchmarking regulations by October 2023. Furthermore, the NJBPU and the New Jersey Institute of Technology will simultaneously develop benchmarking certification programs to create a pool of professionals knowledgeable about the Portfolio Manager tool and the benchmarking program to assist building owners and operators. The NJBPU will also conduct outreach and training with building owners and operators, including with respect to the use of the Portfolio Manager program. The NJBPU further expects notifying owners and operators of the benchmarking submission deadline by July 1, 2023, and regulated utilities will provide data access services to owners and operators by August 1, 2023.

The September 7 Board Order can be found online at https://njcleanenergy.com/files/file/benchmarking/9-7-22-8C.pdf.

According to the New Jersey Clean Energy Program, benchmarking will allow commercial building owners and operators to measure and analyze their facilities’ energy and water use, and compare their performance with similar buildings. Owners and operators can then assess opportunities for performance improvements that reduce energy use and costs at their facilities.

As set forth above, the upcoming benchmarking requirements will have significant impacts on commercial building owners and operators in New Jersey. Continuing monitoring and review of the upcoming proposed regulations will be required for any commercial building operator or owner seeking to be apprised of the upcoming requirements and implementation, including how to obtain energy and water usage data from their utility company, and how to determine if a building is covered or can be exempted.

The NJBPU recently announced two public stakeholder meetings on the “Procedures for Building Owners to Meet Their Benchmarking Obligations” on December 13, 2022, at 10:00 am, and January 5, 2022, at 3:00 pm. Building owners and operators interested in learning more about these meetings can review the NJBPU’s notice posted at https://nj.gov/bpu/newsroom.

For more information, please contact your CSG Law attorney or the author of this article.

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