BEPS is an acronym for Building Energy Performance Standards. It refers to laws regulating energy use for buildings by local, district, and state governments. These laws have been passed by various governments across the country and vary significantly. Currently, the only parts of the DMV with active BEPS laws are the District of Columbia and Montgomery County, Maryland. The Maryland state legislature is finalizing issuing its state-wide BEPS program. It’s scheduled to become active in 2025.

How Do These Laws Work?

These laws aim to achieve a government’s long-term greenhouse gas emission goals by splitting their timeline into smaller compliance cycles. Compliance cycles were designed to encourage building owners to take action early with small steps toward energy savings, instead of requiring immediate, expensive, and time-consuming overhauls.

Each compliance cycle is about 5 years long. To start, multifamily buildings are given an energy use intensity (EUI) target to meet. This target is based on the building’s energy consumption per square foot. If your building meets the target you can relax and forget about BEPS until the next cycle starts in 5 years. If not, you have 5 years to implement changes to reduce energy usage to the target level or face fines. Then, the next compliance cycle starts with a new, lower building energy target.

What Does The Legislation Look Like In DC?

DC’s goal is to reduce energy use in buildings by 50% by 2032 and is using two compliance cycles to achieve this goal. The first compliance cycle began in 2021 and will end in 2026. DC’s energy target is based on a building’s Energy Star score. Energy Star scores measure a building’s energy use intensity relative to similar buildings in the US, presented as a percentile from 0 to 100. A building with a score of 100 is in the top 1% of energy efficiency in the country, a score of 1 is very inefficient, and a score of 50 is average. The target Energy Star score for multifamily buildings in DC is 66. This means that multifamily buildings must be more efficient than 66% of comparable buildings in the US.

The maximum energy use intensity reduction DC’s BEPS law is asking for in each compliance cycle is 20%. So, if achieving an Energy Star score of 66 would require a greater than 20% energy use reduction in your building, you can instead target the 20% reduction and avoid any fines, even if your Energy Star score is less than the target of 66.

The maximum fine is set at $10 per foot. The only buildings that would get the maximum fines are buildings that need to reduce their energy use intensity by 20% or more AND make zero progress towards reducing their energy consumption during the compliance cycle. If your building needs to reduce by 20% but only achieves a 10% reduction, you’d pay $5 per square foot. If your building only needs to reduce by 10% at the beginning of the cycle to achieve an Energy Star score of 66, the highest fine you could get would be $5 per square foot. If you got halfway to your target, you’d be fined $2.50 per square foot.

A skyline shot of Washington D.C. which includes multifamily housing that's subject to BEPS fines.

What About Montgomery County?

Montgomery County is using site energy use intensity as the measurement for its BEPS program. This is the amount of energy used per square foot, represented as kBtu/ft2. The end goal of the county’s BEPS plan is to get multifamily buildings to 37 kBtu/ft2 and is using two compliance cycles to get there. At the start of the program, multifamily buildings will have their baseline usage set. After 5 years, they will need to meet an interim standard which is halfway to the goal of 37 kBtu/ft2. from where they started. After another 5 years, they will need to be at 37 kBtu/ft2.

A 300,000-square-foot condominium with a site energy use intensity of 57 kBtu/ft2 in 2024 will need to reduce its energy usage to 47 kBtu/ft2 by the end of 2030 and down to 37 kBtu/ft2 by the end of 2035. For multifamily properties between 25,000 ft2 and 250,000 ft2, the program begins and ends one year later than for properties greater than 250,000 ft2 so enforcement will occur at the end of 2031 and 2036.

The exact fine structure for the Montgomery County BEPS program isn’t clear yet. Current laws limit the fines to $500 for the first offense and $750 for each subsequent offense but whether these fines will be applied annually, daily, or anywhere in between has not been determined.

Is There Maryland Legislation?

Maryland’s state-wide BEPS program goal is to incentivize all buildings greater than 35,000 ft2 to achieve net-zero direct greenhouse gas emissions by 2040. Maryland is tracking two measurements to achieve this: site energy use intensity and net direct greenhouse gas emissions. Site energy use intensity is the total amount of energy used on site, represented as kBtu/ft2, and net direct greenhouse gas emissions is the amount of CO2 being released on-site, typically from the combustion of fuels for space heating, water heating, or cooking, represented as kgCO2/ft2.

Baseline values for both measurements will be set in 2025, then buildings will enter compliance cycles which end in 2030, 2035, and 2040. For condominiums, the site energy use intensity target for 2040 is 29 kBtu/ft2 and the interim targets serve as checkpoints on a direct path from the 2025 baseline to the 2040 goal. A building with a site energy use intensity of 59 kBtu/ft2  in 2025 will need to achieve 49 kBtu/ft2 by 2030, 39 kBtu/ft2 by 2035, and  29 kBtu/ft2 by 2040. Net direct greenhouse gas emission goals are not connected to the baseline emissions for each building. Instead, all multifamily buildings will be held to the same targets. The targets for condominiums will be 0.82 kgCO2/ft2 in 2030, 0.41 kgCO2/ft2 in 2035, and 0 kgCO2/ft2 in 2040.

When fines begin in 2030, Maryland properties not achieving the BEPS standards will be fined annually for each ton of CO2 released by the building beyond the standards. Fine amounts are tied to the EPA’s estimated social cost of carbon dioxide emissions which will be $230/ton of CO2 in 2030.

The skyline of Baltimore Maryland near the Harbor. Maryland has BEPS.

If My Building Is In Montgomery County Maryland, Do I Follow The County’s Law Or The State’s Law?

You have to follow both. I’d recommend taking the time to understand where each law sets the targets for your property. In most cases, the state law will set more aggressive targets for a given property. The state law also sets the structure for fines. Be sure to keep track of it.

My Building Is In Virginia. Do I Need To Worry About This?

There are currently no BEPS laws in place for the state or local governments in Virginia so there are no energy efficiency requirements or fines to worry about. However, utilities are expensive no matter where you are and many of the improvements related to BEPS can be economically favorable. When done right, energy efficiency measures can lower your community’s operating costs.

How Can I Start Getting Ready For These Laws?

If you find that your building’s energy baseline is above the targets for your jurisdiction, there are several options available to achieve compliance. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to energy performance so it may be worth contacting an energy auditor or advisor in our market to help navigate this process and understand your options.

Silver Spring is in Montgomery County Maryland and faces BEPS fines.

“Silver Spring” – Image Credit IntangibleArts via Flickr.

What Are Some Lower-Cost Improvements Available?

We Have A Lot Of Time To Meet BEPS, What Can We Do?

 

Is your building facing BEPS fines? Do you want to learn more about BEPS? Email contact@paritygo.com and we will get back to you soon.

As the seasons shift from the scorching heat of summer to the bone-chilling cold of winter, and vice versa, building managers need to prepare their properties for the transitional period known as shoulder season.

Parity has found that shoulder season is when buildings waste the most energy because their HVAC controls aren’t properly set.

Among all the seasons, shoulder season emerges as the crown jewel of energy savings when it comes to HVAC systems. With milder temperatures prevailing in fall and spring, there’s less of a need for energy-intensive heating or cooling efforts.

As a result, HVAC systems can and should be able to consume less energy since the outdoor temperature will oftentimes be closer to the desired indoor temperature. By seizing the opportunity to maximize the use of natural ventilation and judiciously adjusting your HVAC settings during shoulder season, energy bills dwindle while occupants still enjoy a cozy and comfortable living space.

While the allure of shoulder season lies in reduced reliance on HVAC systems, they can still be your allies during this time.

A heat pump on the roof of a building. Heat pumps are great for shoulder season as some models can be used for heating and cooling.

Photo by ready made on Pexels

It requires a lot of manual work to prepare your building’s HVAC systems for the heat or the cold. But by leaving your summer or winter HVAC controls on during the fall or spring, you’re leaving savings on the table.

An example is if you’re over-cooling your building with summer controls. You could be wasting energy if your condenser, water pump, or chiller is running too much because the demand in your building for cooling is much lower in the fall than in the summer.

Our HVAC optimization service can automatically and remotely reduce energy consumption by reducing equipment speeds and adjusting temperature setpoints to meet the building’s heating or cooling demand. Let’s take a look at 2 examples.

Shoulder Season Energy Savings Example 1

A 4-pipe Fan Coil building in Midtown runs cooling year-round. The building has a Free Cooling Loop, however, due to the glass construction of the building, there is still a significant load on the building during winter months. This forces the building to run the Chiller deep into the winter.

Parity can automatically switch between free cooling and mechanical cooling operation depending on the building load. We enable the building to reduce energy and costs significantly.

Shoulder Season Energy Savings Example 2

Another example is a building with a Water Source Heat Pump and Gas-Fired Steam Boilers for Heat Injection.

Parity installed VFDs on the primary condenser pump and cooling tower allowing our algorithm to ramp up and down speeds according to building demand. We also reset the secondary condenser water setpoint based on the outdoor wet bulb allowing for improved water source heat pump efficiency with minimal impact on overall central plant consumption. Lastly, we added automatic summer/winter operation to boilers allowing the boilers to operate on low fire mode for DHW production during off-season conditions.

 

Shoulder season empowers property and resident managers to harness the full potential of your HVAC system. Shoulder season isn’t just about comfortable temperatures; it’s about smart, sustainable living that benefits both your wallet and the planet. With the help of a company like Parity, you can navigate this transitional period with ease.