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Building energy rating & benchmarking: understanding similarities and differences

Panel: 6. Policies and programmes towards a zero-energy building stock

This is a peer-reviewed paper.

Lane Burt, Ember Strategies, USA
Adam Hinge, Sustainable Energy Partnerships, USA
Andrew Burr, U.S. Department of Energy


Over the past five years, policies requiring building energy benchmarking have become increasingly prevalent around the world. Europe has mandated energy certification, while in other regions popular voluntary tools have become incorporated into mandatory policies requiring benchmarking and disclosure of energy consumption information. The Energy Star Portfolio Manager tool in the United States is the basis for mandatory public benchmarking policies in New York City and other large U.S. cities for various building types. Cities are leading the charge on the U.S. policy front while the national scope Portfolio Manager tool continues to expand its scope to additional building types, enabling broader benchmarking policies. In Australia, the NABERS system was originally developed for New South Wales and has now become the foundation for mandatory public benchmarking of offices across the country. Initial data from the first years of implementing these programs is now becoming available. This paper compares the programs, policies, and initial results from the public benchmarking policies in Europe, the United States and Australia. The paper documents the extensive similarities and nuanced differences among the tools, approaches, and policies in major countries and identifies key questions that must be answered in the coming years. The paper considers the policy dynamics of the city, state, and national roles in each country and identifies applicable lessons learned. The paper raises key questions and potential areas for alignment and exchange of best practices between the initiatives in various countries.


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