Building  Owners  and  Managers  Association  International

Building Owners and Managers Association International

Real Estate Groups Release Study on Economic Impacts of Mandatory Building Energy Labeling

March 28, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(BOSTON AND WASHINGTON, D.C. – March 28, 2013) The Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International and the Greater Boston Real Estate Board (GBREB) announced today the release of “An Economic Perspective on Building Labeling Policies,” a report co-authored by Harvard University Environmental Economist Robert N. Stavins that examines the extent to which mandatory building energy labeling results in reduced energy use.  The research and the resulting report were sponsored by BOMA International and GBREB.

The project was prompted by increased interest in laws mandating energy scores and energy efficiency programs throughout the United States and in Massachusetts.  The City of Boston is currently considering mandated reporting for office buildings, apartments and condominiums.  It seeks to answer the question of the effectiveness of these programs.  Although BOMA and GBREB are committed to energy efficiency and many other measures intended to protect the environment, both organizations are opposed to policies that arbitrarily intervene with market forces, assign market value to buildings, stigmatize property or otherwise interfere with transactions.

According to Professor Stavins and his colleagues from the Analysis Group, a Boston-based economic consulting firm who helped conduct the review, there is no credible evidence to date that a regulatory approach is effective in achieving these goals for which they are intended.  The report analyzes the effectiveness of mandatory energy labeling for commercial buildings in the U.S.  The results of existing programs are still to be measured but the report finds:

  • Building labels could affect property values, with properties that receive a “green” score seeing appreciation in their market value and properties receiving a brown score experiencing depreciation.
  • Building labeling programs that are now in effect in select cities throughout the U.S. vary in the quality and usefulness of the information developed and the requirements and costs imposed on property owners.  There is insufficient history, therefore, for any city to employ best practice in this area.
  • Building energy labels differ greatly from the energy labels currently placed on many consumer products such as refrigerators and automobiles.  While product labels provide consumers with information on the energy savings from their product decisions, building labels provide no information on energy costs or savings.  Moreover, they provide no information on how building owners can cost-effectively improve their building’s energy use.  Building labels are also unique to each building, thus making them more costly to produce and more prone to error.
  • The premium associated with labels may “overvalue” the underlying energy savings, suggesting that other factors could be affecting market decisions.
  • If building scores are concentrated in particular neighborhoods, it could affect property values across neighborhoods.  Likewise, building sectors may see overall appreciation or depreciation if scores tend to be high or low within individual sectors.

“Mandatory benchmarking and energy labeling often adds expense to building owners without necessarily improving energy efficiency significantly,” commented BOMA International Chair Joe Markling, managing director of Strategic Accounts with CBRE.  “The voluntary marketplace has been making great strides in reducing energy consumption. Imposing mandates will impose a big burden on many owners who may or may not see improved performance or a return on their investment.”

“Unfortunately, cities follow one another passing laws like this in their competition to be greener than the next.  Boston should not be another guinea pig until some definitive evidence shows that laws like these actually work,” commented Gregory Vasil, President of the Greater Boston Real Estate Board.

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About BOMA International
The Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International is a federation of 93 BOMA U.S. associations, BOMA Canada and its 11 regional associations and 13 BOMA international affiliates.  Founded in 1907, BOMA represents the owners and managers of all commercial property types, including nearly 10 billion square feet of U.S. office space that supports 3.7 million jobs and contributes $205 billion to the U.S. GDP.  Its mission is to advance the interests of the entire commercial real estate industry through advocacy, education, research, standards and information.  Find BOMA online at www.boma.org.

About the Greater Boston Real Estate Board
Founded in 1889, the Greater Boston Real Estate Board counts as its members more than 8,000 professionals engaged in all sectors of the industry. One of the local boards of the National Association of Realtors, BOMA International and the National Apartment Association, GBREB is considered unique nationally due to its varied membership base. The Board is comprised of five associations: BOMA Boston, Commercial Brokers Association, Greater Boston Association of REALTORS®, Real Estate Finance Association and the Rental Housing Association.  Learn more at www.gbreb.com.

Contact
Courtney C. McKay
Manager of Communications & Marketing
BOMA International
(202) 326-6352
cmckay@boma.org

Patricia Baumer
Director of Government Affairs
Greater Boston Real Estate Board
617-399-7858
pbaumer@gbreb.com