Boston Becomes 8th U.S. City to Require Water, Energy Disclosures

Boston has joined seven other U.S. cities in requiring building owners to disclose energy and water usage of their real estate assets.

By Jeffrey Steele, Contributing Writer

Boston—Boston has joined seven other U.S. cities in requiring building owners to disclose energy and water usage of their real estate assets. Covered by the regulation are multifamily residential buildings with 50 or more units or 50,000 gross square feet. Owners must begin reporting by May 15, 2015.

Residential buildings with 35 or more units or 35,000 gross square feet begin reporting by May 15, 2017. Non-compliant building owners are subject to fines.

Meanwhile, in California, Senate Bill 750 passed the California Senate on May 29, mandating water submeter installation in apartment buildings after January 1, 2014 as a requirement for new water service to a regulated property.

This bill also requires residents receive an accurate account of their water consumption, and any effect on a corresponding water bill.

NWP Services Corporation’s UtilitySmart solution assists apartment building owners and operators in optimizing utility spend through automation, benchmarking analytics and extensive reporting technologies.

“Rising energy costs mean that energy now represents a significant portion of operating budgets for multifamily properties. And in some cases it is number one,” Shveta Oak, UtilitySmart product manager, tells MHN. “UtilitySmart starts by managing utility invoice processing and capturing relevant data off those bills for our customers. This then leads to various analytics that provide assistance with energy benchmarking. [That] means a holistic tracking of a property’s energy—including electric and gas—water and waste use, and using a standard metric like apartment unit to compare the building’s performance against past performance, and to its peers nationwide.”

These comparisons have been shown to create visibility into opportunities for reducing consumption, driving energy efficiency upgrades, lowering costs and increasing occupancy rates and property values, she adds.

Asked what building owners and operators must do to implement UtilitySmart, Oak says they must make a fundamental shift from expense management and recovery to a combination of expense management and energy management.

“This needs to be communicated to the field so it is a joint effort by everyone to achieve the desired results,” she says. “Dedicating time and resources to the energy management initiative is also extremely helpful.”

State and local energy disclosure regulations are helping convince owners and operators to use UtilitySmart to help guide them through the process of disclosure, because it provides accurate and normalized data, Oak reports.

Today’s residents are also savvier about energy use, she adds. Demonstrating to residents that the owner is concerned and actively managing the property’s energy expenses can help increase occupancy and resident retention.

“Customers appreciate the fact that they do not have to spend hours entering information into ESPM to comply with local and state regulations,” Oak says. “UtilitySmart has made this very simple for our customers, which has allowed them to spend their time on other pressing needs.”

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