Comparing Philadelphia’s BEPP with National Energy Efficiency Programs
What are the similarities and differences between Philadelphia’s BEPP, EPA’s ENERGY STAR, and USGBC’s LEED programs? This blog post will explain.
EHS professionals in the Philadelphia area are likely familiar with the city’s Building Energy Performance Program (BEPP) — a benchmarking program created through the Building Energy Performance Policy that “aims to achieve efficient energy and water use in the largest non-residential buildings in Philadelphia.”
Those going through this process may wonder how the BEPP compares with other programs, such as the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s ENERGY STAR and US Green Business Council (USGBC)’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) programs.
All three are designed to track energy usage within commercial properties, and to support consumption reductions and increased efficiency over time. While ENERGY STAR and LEED are federal programs, the BEPP is a local initiative with similar goals, but with the important distinction that participation is not optional. Philadelphia’s BEPP is mandatory locally for buildings that meet its requirements, while ENERGY STAR and LEED are optional, nationally-recognized certifications.
The City of Philadelphia projects that the policy will cut carbon pollution by nearly 200,000 metric tons — a reduction equivalent to taking 40,000 automobiles off our roads, which is not insignificant — but it’s important for building owners to be aware of upcoming deadlines. We are currently in the midst of compliance deadlines for the BEPP, which cover three different options — from 2022 through 2024:
A “tune-up” of pre-existing building systems
A certification of high performance
Receiving an exemption
The BEPP’s next set of deadlines includes:
January 4, 2024: Updated alternative compliance plans for large portfolios
April 3, 2024: Deadline for certifying high performance, requesting an alternative exemption, and making extension requests for 50,000–70,000 sq. ft. buildings.
Note: deadlines for buildings with larger square footage have already passed.
September 30, 2024: Tune-up report deadline for 50,000–70,000 sq. ft. buildings
Tune-up specialists submitting 2024 reports must also be certified by this date.
That being said, buildings that qualify across each of these benchmarking programs have the potential to achieve substantial savings on their operational expenses. According to the City of Philadelphia, BEPP certification results in an average of 10-15% savings on annual energy costs. ENERGY STAR estimates that its certified buildings cost $0.54 less per square foot to operate, and LEED-certified buildings boast higher rents and occupancy rates.
Another difference between these programs are their areas of emphasis. Both BEPP and ENERGY STAR are focused specifically on energy efficiency; BEPP gives a single overarching certification when you meet its requirements, while ENERGY STAR gives buildings a score between 1 and 100. This figure represents the percentage by which a certified building outperforms a comparable set of buildings. LEED, in contrast, weighs a wider variety of sustainability aspects in awarding its certifications — including water, materials, design innovations, and more.
Finally, it's essential to acknowledge the geographical and organizational structure of these certifications. These are key aspects when considering benchmarking programs and determining what would be most pertinent for your organization:
BEPP is contained to Philadelphia-based buildings, and is administered by the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Sustainability.
ENERGY STAR certifications, administered by the EPA, are handled by the federal governmental agency, and are awarded to buildings across the US.
Meanwhile, LEED is administered by the nonprofit USGBC but makes its certifications available to buildings worldwide.
When it comes to achieving these energy efficiency standards, we understand what must be done and we are with you every step of the way. We perform specialized benchmarking audits, after which we’ll work with you to evaluate and determine the best new systems to implement in your facility (e.g. boilers or chillers). Through our process, we’ll help you to achieve the certifications that are mandated or desired for your building — locally, nationally, or globally. For more information, contact EES President Tom Petersen at firstname.lastname@example.org.