The diverse nature of ownership makes achieving scale in this market sector particularly difficult. Developing solutions that overcome challenges at the building level is critical but only if these solutions are developed in tandem with solutions that make it easier for large numbers of retrofits to be performed. The stakeholders most capable of reaching large volumes of buildings are state and city governments, utilities, and owners of large portfolios. Solutions at this scale require different approaches. For example, there are often large quantities of data that need to be combined and analyzed to prioritize retrofit opportunities, and the data may be in the hands of different stakeholders. Energy consumption data may be available at a fine scale at the utility level but not accessible by a building owner. Or a city or utility may lack access to data about the building stock that would allow them to develop programs that incentivize retrofits. Even portfolio owners may not have a good understanding of the performance of buildings in their portfolio, but completing energy audits of every building in their portfolio may be cost prohibitive, so they require solutions that make the process of prioritizing investments in their portfolio easier.
CBEI has played a strong role in developing and promoting solutions on a portfolio scale. To help prioritize efforts in this space, CBEI conducted a review of current and trending policies, regulatory strategies, and incentive programs that have the most significant bearing on the implementation of retrofits in commercial buildings. This research set the agenda for the CBEI portfolio work. CBEI has focused primarily on developing best practices in building performance transparency and benchmarking, testing approaches useful for utilities to reach more customers in their energy efficiency programs, demonstrating the value of solutions that can be applied at a portfolio level to better gauge building performance, and developing guidance that helps regulators and the building owners more effectively meet codes and standards.
A consistent approach that CBEI has applied in portfolio solutions is to engage with and connect the relevant stakeholders throughout the process of developing solutions. Developing a solution that provides value to each of the stakeholders ensures greater uptake of the solution in a region — and nationally. For example, CBEI was instrumental in convening the City of Philadelphia, PECO, and building owners to identify the value of a benchmarking ordinance to each stakeholder. This approach has since been replicated in multiple cities around the country to bring stakeholders together to improve access to energy consumption data and enable a deeper understanding of the performance of buildings in a region, which allows owners to better prioritize retrofits and cities and utilities to better design programs that incentivize energy efficiency.