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Employing On-Site Renewable Energy to Raise ENERGY STAR Scores Part 2

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As a contractor, you have to be prepared to work on projects of all shapes and sizes. Dealing with special requests for custom projects, ranging from glass flooring to on-site renewable energy technology, can help you assert yourself as a flexible construction professional with a valuable toolset. If you are contracted to install on-site renewable energy technology such as solar panels on an existing structure or a structure you are currently contracted to build, you should consult a Sarasota construction attorney to ensure that your project is compliant with Florida building codes and other laws.

In part two of this two-part series, the Sarasota construction attorneys at Cotney Construction Law will explore Portfolio Manager, the preferred online benchmarking tool of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for projects like those we discussed in part one.

What is Portfolio Manager?

Portfolio Manager is the EPA’s designated online benchmarking tool for “assessing and tracking the energy performance of commercial buildings.” By using this application, users can track their financial savings and the environmental benefits of their on-site renewable energy systems. Portfolio Manager uses a ranking system from 1 to 100 to score performance using a metric similar to the “miles-per-gallon” metric that evaluates fuel efficiency in automobiles.

In part one, we discussed an EPA case study that measured the effectiveness of solar arrays on JCPenney stores throughout the United States. In that study, JCPenney found that Portfolio Manager was the best energy performance tracking tool available to accurately determine the efficacy of their rooftop solar arrays. Portfolio Manager’s only weakness is that it relies on one full year of data to determine a score, which means you won’t know exactly how efficient the system you installed is until the following year.

Determining ENERGY STAR Scores

Portfolio Manager calculates scores based on source energy intensity3 (kBtu/sq. ft./year) which considers the entire energy requirement of a commercial building, while simultaneously ensuring that a building isn’t penalized for the efficiency of its utility company. The EPA assigns different values to buildings based on their average generation, transmission, and distribution losses. Grid-purchased electricity results in a higher “site-to-source ratio” which means these buildings will never receive a higher ENERGY STAR score than a building that uses on-site renewable energy.

Portfolio Manager is unable to account for excess electricity that is exported into the local electric utility grid, but it does account for any energy consumed on-site. That is why solar arrays are an attractive option for commercial buildings, where electricity usage and cost patterns line up most evenly for total consumption of supplied electricity.

If you would like to speak with a Sarasota construction lawyer, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.