The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) launched a program to inform building owners and operators, tenants and prospective buyers on the energy use of buildings. The program aims to set a standard similar to a nutrition label on food or miles per gallon ratings on cars.

The Building Energy Quotient program, which will be known as Building EQ, will include both “as designed” (asset) and “in operation” (as operated) ratings for all building types, except residential. It also will provide a detailed certificate with data on actual energy use, energy demand profiles, indoor air quality and other information that will enable building owners to evaluate and reduce their building’s energy use.

“Information on a building’s energy use is the critical first step in making the necessary changes and choices to reduce energy use and costs,” said Gordon Holness, ASHRAE president. “The Building EQ program provides an easily understood scale to convey a building’s energy use in comparison to similar buildings, occupancy types and climate zone, while also providing building owners with building-specific information that can be used to improve building energy performance.”

Holness noted that building energy use disclosure is already mandatory in California; Washington, D.C.; Austin, Texas; Washington state; Australia; and the European Union.

Those participating in the pilot program are leading building owners and designers, real estate developers and government agencies, and include the following:

• The Durst Organization, the owner, manager and builder of 9 million square feet of midtown Manhattan office and residential properties, including 4 Times Square

• The U.S. General Services Administration, the primary agency responsible for the acquisition and management of federal buildings, which owns or leases 8,600 properties and maintains an inventory of more than 354 million square feet of workspace for 1.1 million federal employees

• Wright Runstad and Co., which develops, acquires, manages and leases high-quality commercial office buildings located primarily in the Pacific Northwest

• Ashforth Pacific, Portland, Ore., a real estate firm that owns, develops and invests in property management, general contracting and construction management

“To continue advancing the state-of-the-art of high-performing buildings, it is essential that the gap between predicted and actual performance be identified and understood,” said Don Winston, vice president technical services, The Durst Organization. “By including both as-designed and in-operation ratings, this system will help us better understand what works and what doesn’t, and allow us to make better informed design choices in future projects.”

Under the program, the performance of new buildings will be assessed based on the components specified in the design and the results of building energy modeling and simulation. An in-operation rating will be available once the building has at least one year of data on the actual energy use and is based on a combination of the structure of the building and how it is operated. Existing buildings would be eligible to receive both ratings.

For more information, visit www.buildingEQ.com.