Building owners that utilize ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager will see a dramatic change in the 1 to 100 ENERGY STAR scores after August 26, 2018. Every score model we reviewed saw a drop in ENERGY STAR score except hotels.

You have 75 days to act.

The change is significant for buildings pursuing LEED or Green Globes certification, for buildings with GSA or other government space leases tied to an ENERGY STAR score of 75, for buildings in cities with mandatory benchmarking, and for the more than 450,000 commercial properties that have an ENERGY STAR score.

This is a huge deal because EPA says that more than 40% of U.S. commercial building space is benchmarked in Portfolio Manager (versus less than 1% of U.S. commercial building is LEED certified).

The change is because EPA is updating performance metrics in Portfolio Manager based on more recent market data. This update is part of EPA’s standard process to keep ENERGY STAR metrics current. For most types of commercial buildings, the 1 to 100 ENERGY STAR score is based on the Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey, which is conducted once every four years (.. sort of) by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration. This latest CBECS data became available in 2016 and is based on the results of the 2012 survey. (Note that EIA was unable to publish the 2007 CBECS and therefore, many of today’s scores rely on much older CBECS data, hence the dramatic drop now.)

The bottom line is most, if not nearly all ENERGY STAR scores will drop. The 1 to100 ENERGY STAR score compares a building’s energy performance to that of similar buildings nationwide. The most recent market data available shows an overall improvement in the energy performance of the U.S. building stock in recent years.

So when Portfolio Manager metrics are updated on August 26, ENERGY STAR scores and other performance metrics will go down.

Exact score changes for specific buildings or portfolios will not be available prior to the August release. An individual building’s ENERGY STAR score may increase or decrease, depending on energy use, fuel mix, business activity, property type, and other variables, but see the chart above for where EPA suggests most buildings will move.

The following 1 to 100 ENERGY STAR score models will be updated: bank branches, courthouses, financial offices, hotels, houses of worship, K-12 schools, offices, retail, supermarkets, and warehouses.

The release date for all updated scores is August 26, 2018. The online tool will be temporarily unavailable beginning the afternoon of August 26 while the changes are made, and then is anticipated to come back online late in the evening the following day. Users will see the updated metrics when they login to the tool on Monday, August 27.

In addition to updates to 1 to 100 ENERGY STAR score models, there will be two other changes included in the August 2018 metric updates: Beginning after August 26, there will be a new option to use estimated energy use for data centers. This option is designed for smaller data centers, within another property type, and where it is not practical to measure IT energy use.

There will also be a change to the source energy factor helps level the playing field for different fuel types by tracing the energy requirements of the building back to the raw fuel input (coal, gas, steam, hydro, etc.). Based on the national average, the new national source electric factor will be slightly lower. However, performance metrics could increase or decrease depending on the building’s fuel-mix ratio, though changes based on this update alone with be comparatively small in magnitude.

So, apply now for ENERGY STAR certification, especially if your building score is close to 75!

Applications submitted by July 26, 2018 will be assessed using currently available (pre-update) scores. Applications received before July 26, 2018, and which require no significant follow-up or changes, will be approved and awarded certification using the existing score models. Applications received after August 26 will be evaluated using the updated score models.

EPA will not rescind prior ENERGY STAR certifications.

To aid in this transition to updated scores, EPA is making a one-time update to eligibility rules to allow everyone to apply before the score changes are implemented. EPA is updating the requirement to wait at least 11 months after the “Year Ending” date of your last approved application. Policy for 2018 only is all buildings that earned 2017 ENERGY STAR certification will be eligible to apply for 2018 certification using a “Year Ending Date” of April 30, 2018 or earlier.

EPA and the Department of Energy have signaled that in the FY 2019 federal budget, Energy Star will not be funded. I wrote about this in a blog post last year, The Opportunity for ENERGY STAR, when a last minute budget deal temporarily kept the program from being privatized.

But the takeaway for today, while awaiting implementation of the loftier policy, is, apply now for an ENERGY STAR score, especially if your building score is close to 75! You have 75 days to act.