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Stakeholder-Designed Energy Benchmarking Program

Montgomery County, MD
Program Year: 2017

In May 2014, Montgomery County adopted a Commercial Energy Benchmarking Law, requiring building owners of certain non-residential buildings to verify and report their energy use to the County for public disclosure. Energy benchmarking and transparency laws improve market information and incentivize building owners to make investments for energy efficient building operations. Such mandates require extensive technical education and may require building owners to adopt new practices to collect and submit data. Montgomery County’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) seeks to strengthen its partnerships with the business community through its energy and sustainability initiatives, and as such, incorporated a stakeholder process into the legislation to evaluate the Law and provide recommendations for implementation, including any amendments to the Law. Over 50 individuals across the building, utility, energy services, local government, and nonprofit sectors were engaged in an 8-month process, resulting in a set of amendments and support demonstrated by over 50 buildings voluntarily reporting a year before the first deadline. Further, the stakeholders directly contributed to the design of a program to support compliance with the Law and its link to making energy efficiency upgrades. Program components initiated and guided by the stakeholder process include: “Early Bird” reporting and recognition event for voluntary reporters; “Benchmarked” profile series recognizing buildings that have benchmarked; Ambassadors program to train service providers on the details of the Law; Office hours; Website content; pro bono benchmarking program for nonprofits; and development of an extensive Benchmarking Guide. The County’s stakeholder process stands out among jurisdictions implementing similar laws, and has led to other jurisdictions adopting the same model. Not only did the process contribute to effective Benchmarking Program roll-out and high compliance rates, but the program has improved County relationships with many in the commercial building sector, creating a partnership that continues to contribute to new and ongoing energy initiatives.

Ms. Lisa Austin