• Montgomery County’s New Building Energy Use Benchmarking Law Goes Into Effect June 1
  • June 20, 2016 | Author: Patricia A. Harris
  • Law Firm: Lerch, Early & Brewer, Chartered - Bethesda Office
  • Starting on June 1, property owners of buildings 250,000 square feet or greater in Montgomery County are subject to the county's Building Energy Use Benchmarking Law.

    Broadly speaking, the law requires owners to track and record a building's energy consumption data to quantify its energy use. It mandates the use of Energy Star Portfolio Manager or a successor system.

    Buildings subject to the law this year (Group I) exceed 250,000 square feet and include any nonresidential building or group nonresidential buildings with one property identification number.

    Next year, Group II buildings will fall under the law. These range in size from 50,000 to 250,000 square feet and include any nonresidential building or group of nonresidential buildings with one property identification number.

    The law’s notable requirements include:
    1. By June 1 (and every June 1 thereafter), Group I covered buildings will be required to “benchmark” the building for the previous year and report the benchmarking results to the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
    2. Group II covered buildings will be required to complete the first benchmarking process by June 1, 2017 (and every June 1 thereafter).
    3. The benchmarking data must be verified by a professional Maryland licensed engineer or architect.
    4. By March 1 of each year, the owner must request relevant benchmarking information from each tenant in a covered building. Note that the law requires each tenant to provide the owner with all benchmarking information within 30 days that the owner cannot otherwise acquire to comply with this section. If the tenant does not provide the information, the owner is not relieved of performing its benchmarking duties to the extent possible. At the same time, the county must determine that the owner complied with the law, provided they can demonstrate that they requested the information from the tenant and otherwise benchmarked the building using the information the owner had available.
    5. The only exceptions to complying with the benchmarking requirements are if the building is in financial distress, less than 50% occupied, or under construction/newly occupied.
    6. Violation of the law is a “Class A violation” (civil citation: initial offense $500; repeat offense $750; each day of not complying constitutes a separate offense).
    The county is responsible for compiling the information it obtains. The county passed the law to encourage more environmentally efficient buildings and to recognize building owners who have made investments to improve their building energy performance.

    The DEP will hold special benchmarking office hours on May 17 and June 21 at their offices located at 255 Rockville Pike to answer property owners’ questions. In addition, you can visit DEP’s website, which includes additional information on the law and includes a link to the reporting page.

    The law was one of a number of environmental measures first introduced by Councilmember Roger Berliner in 2014.