BPS For Policy Makers

Communities, states, and countries around the globe are establishing aggressive carbon reduction goals. These climate goals can only be achieved with a heavy emphasis on building energy efficiency.

Performance Standards (BPS) are a powerful tool that can be used to increase the performance of buildings, making them more efficient and reducing their carbon emissions.

As a policy maker looking to design, pass, and implement a BPS, it is important to consider the many elements of a BPS and tailor them to fit the needs of your local jurisdiction. No one single model will work everywhere as each place has different needs, barriers, and desired outcomes.

Ongoing stakeholder engagement will help to create and operate an equitable BPS. A few important considerations to the design of a BPS include: BPS Goal setting, Covered Buildings, and Compliance Pathways.

BEPS Goal Setting

In order to establish the compliance goals for BEPS, the city or state needs to understand the emission or energy use that comes from buildings.

Benchmarking data can be utilized to understand the current performance of buildings so aggressive yet attainable targets can be set. Once the long-term goals are set, shorter term targets can be developed.

A balance between short and long term goals must be met so building owners have enough time to take into account long term financing without being too long as to have economic or political uncertainties.

Covered Buildings

In the United States, covered buildings are usually determined by a square foot size threshold. Another option, as used by Tokyo, is an emission-based threshold.

Whichever metric is used to determine participation in the BPS, the threshold should be set to maximize the jurisdiction’s energy and or carbon reductions while minimizing the number of participants. The more buildings that are covered by the BPS, the harder it will be to manage the program.

Compliance Pathways

Two popular compliance pathways are a performance based path and a presciprive path.

Performance Path

A performance based path compares energy and emissions data to a baseline to determine compliance. A building owner is able to achieve energy and carbon reductions in anyway they see fit.

Prescriptive Path

A prescriptive path lists a number of measures with assumed energy and carbon savings. A building owner simply needs to follow the checklist of upgrades to comply.

Alternative Compliance Payment

Many BPS policies also include and Alternative Compliance Payment (ACP) which is a price per unit of energy or carbon that a building owner can pay to come into compliance.

This option lets building owners decide if it is cheaper to make a costly upgrade now or pay the ACP and save the project for the future when it makes more financial sense.

Stakeholder discussions can help guide the price of an ACP so it is a fair price that is expensive enough to encourage compliance with the target but cheap enough to be affordable to those who want or need to use it.

Resources for Building Owners and Equitable Outcomes

Policy makers must recognize that not every building owner has the same access to resources as the rest. Some building owners are overburdened and do not have the finances or time to spend making mandatory upgrades to their buildings.

Mechanisms should be included to support these building owners so they are able to reap the benefits of a high performing building without being financially punished.

Some ideas include, specialized incentives and guidance for LMI and historically underserved building owners, an equitable investment fund which uses ACP funds and non-compliance penalties to fund projects of those who need the most support, alternative compliance pathways, or extended timelines.

These are just a few considerations that need to go into the design of a BPS Policy and regulation. Our resource center has a collection of policy recommendations and research explaining the different policy elements within a BPS.
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