Energy benchmarking: how does the U.S. compare to other countries?
Here at Wegowise, we’re always excited when cities and countries take initiatives to become more energy efficient. With several U.S. cities having passed energy disclosure laws, it made us wonder how the U.S. stacks up against other countries when it comes to energy benchmarking and energy efficiency in general.
Not surprising, a lot of countries have taken on energy efficiency initiatives. Last year, the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), published an International Energy Efficiency Scorecard ranking the top 12 countries with the largest economies for their energy consumption and policies. Unfortunately the United States ranked 9th, hindered by our score in the area of transportation. The map below indicates which countries were included in the Scorecard, along with where they ranked for efficiency in the building, industry, and transportation sectors, in addition to national efforts to promote efficiency.
Of all the categories surveyed for the Scorecard, the U.S. scored the highest in the building category, coming in 4th overall. This is largely in part because the energy disclosure laws have generated an awareness of building energy use and encouraged the reduction of energy consumption.
However, there are many countries that have taken great strides to promote energy benchmarking. Let’s take a look at a few.
Generally seen as more eco-conscious than Americans, we guessed that Europeans would be most energy efficient all around. While this is largely the case, Americans seem to be ahead of the EU when it comes to benchmarking ordinances. Though most European countries have some sort of benchmarking requirement, the method used to rate buildings varies. The first method, “operational labels,” are similar to the American approach to benchmarking. These labels are based on the actual energy use of a building. The second method, “asset labels” are based on the predicted performance of a building. Most European countries require operational labels only for publicly owned buildings, shifting the focus away from actual energy use and targeting occupant activities to reduce consumption in privately owned buildings. Buildingrating.com, a website created by the nonprofit, Institute for Market Transformation, has a great breakdown of each EU country's energy policies.
Australia implemented its Commercial Building Disclosure program in 2011, requiring any building owner or lessor with commercial office space over 2,000 m2 to obtain a Building Energy Efficiency Certificate (BEEC) when the space is advertised for sale or lease. Among the elements in a BEEC includes an assessment of tenant lighting in the area of the building. Ranking 2nd in the ACEEE Scorecard for building efficiency, Australia’s program seems to be one of the more effective programs to date. Read more about Australia’s energy policies.
Similar to policies in the EU, China also requires both asset and operational labels. Their labeling program is required for four types of buildings: new government-owned office buildings or large public buildings, existing buildings that apply for government funding to subsidize energy retrofits, state or provincial energy efficiency demonstration buildings, and buildings that apply for National Green Building Labels. Though it sounds less extensive than other programs, several local goverments have developed their own programs as well, and China ranked #1 in the ACEEE Scorecard for building efficiency. You can read more about China's policies here.