Energy Star, Green Lease Leaders, Offer New Support for Tenants

Over the years, Energy Star has steadily expanded its reach. Today, a wide spectrum of buildings can use the program to score energy performance on a scale of 1 to 100 and to gain certification for energy efficiency.

But one segment of the real estate market has been left out: tenants. Congress sought to change that when it passed the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015, which authorized EPA to expand Energy Star recognition to tenants.

In response to that law, Energy Star has developed Energy Star Tenant Space recognition (initially known as “Tenant Star”). A pilot program is underway involving more than 140 tenant office spaces in 70 organizations. The charter tenants have agreed to five steps: estimate energy use intensity, meter their energy use, install energy efficient lighting, purchase energy efficient equipment like computers and printers, and share data with the building owner if asked to do so. Energy Star’s goal is to roll out the program to all office space next year.

For now, the program won’t have a 1-to-100 scale, which can’t be created without solid numbers on tenant energy use. Getting that data is several years off. But even without that score, Energy Star Tenant Space will offer valuable recognition and tools to aid efficiency efforts.

The Energy Star program dovetails with changes to another important effort to remove barriers to tenant energy efficiency. Green Lease Leaders, developed by the Institute for Market Transformation with funding from DOE, has aligned with Energy Star Tenant Space criteria. Green Lease Leaders also added a Gold recognition for firms that have executed green leases, plus an online assessment.

Of course, Energy Star Tenant Space can roll out only if Energy Star still has the funding to make the program a reality. The House of Representatives voted to keep Energy Star but to slash its funding by 26 percent. Now Senate action is needed, so there’s time to speak up for Energy Star