FM Articles

Carbon Emission Compliance – Creating an Individualized Roadmap With MBCx


Multiple states across the U.S. are making a concerted effort to address climate change by minimizing carbon emissions through strict, fine-enforced limits. Buildings, specifically those in the commercial and residential sectors, have come under intense scrutiny for their high emission rates which account for approximately 39% of all carbon emissions in the U.S.

Newly introduced regulations including Local Law 97 in New York State, and the Energy Master Plan in New Jersey are just a few pieces in a growing pile of environmental legislation. Property builders, owners and managers are called upon to reduce emissions upwards of 80% over the next 30 years – which has left many asking how this is even possible to achieve.

Each building will have its own unique challenges based on the original design and intent of the facility, making transparency into energy use and emissions critical to create a strategic plan to meet these new limits. Advanced Monitoring-Based Commissioning (MBCx) solutions are one part of the smart building technology puzzle that can provide this transparency and put any building on a trajectory towards compliance.

The New Regulations, Restrictions and Limits Across the U.S.
Driving this change, we’ve seen a few states that have now put forth regulations and plans to reduce carbon emissions. These plans create a framework that other states can, and will likely, follow in the years to come. Here’s a snapshot of a few below:

  • New York State – Local Law 97: Local Law 97 (LL97) is part of the Climate Mobilization Act which is designed to cut greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050. Almost all buildings based in New York City will be mandated to hit aggressive targets and stay within strict emission limits that are set based on the building size and class. Failure to comply will result in fines of $268 for each metric ton over the limit.
  • New Jersey Energy Master Plan: As part of the Energy Master Plan, an aggressive commitment from the State of New Jersey to achieve 50% clean energy by 2030 and 100% by 2050, which will require builders to take the climate crisis into consideration before seeking permission for any project.
  • California – Roadmap to Decarbonize California Buildings: California is looking to use this roadmap to decarbonize its buildings, which are a key emission driver in the state. It asks the state to adopt a Zero Emission Building Code for residential buildings, which make up about two thirds of these emissions, by 2025, and commercial buildings by 2028. To support these efforts, the state is also planning to increase its market share of high-efficiency heat pumps for space and water heating to 50% of sales in 2025 and 100% by 2030.

Leveraging MBCx With an Added Layer of Intelligence
Gaining continuous transparency into a building’s energy use, operations and inefficiencies is the first step for creating a strategic plan to achieve emission reduction and stay within the designated limits. MBCx systems, with built-in commissioning metrics and fault detection analytics, are among the smart building solutions that are providing the necessary transparency to monitor and achieve these targets.

MBCx systems can be added to both new and existing buildings to create a baseline measurement and track to your target measurements – all while maintaining peak operational efficiency for MEP systems and equipment. Additional effectiveness and value comes from the ability to introduce real-time analytics, with intelligence, that identifies and alerts personnel to the highest priority issues that are the costliest in both energy and maintenance.

Boosting Savings From Compliance and Reduced Energy Use
Being able to clearly monitor hundreds of pieces of equipment and systems and see what and where the biggest energy inefficiencies exist creates two benefits: First, reduced time to resolution – the ability to fix inefficiencies before they become larger issues and result in significant costs; and second, the ability to prioritize maintenance efforts based on which fixes are the easiest, but will result in the highest energy savings. Having this added layer of intelligence allows your team to be strategic in how they reduce carbon emissions and bolster energy savings through required maintenances.

MBCx systems can create significant energy savings, and save facilities from non-compliance fines, but they also increase the return on investment by creating added energy and maintenance cost savings. For example, a 600,000 square foot commercial building in New York that goes 15 percent over its allowable emissions limit would be fined $204,055 each. Not only can MBCx systems help facility managers avoid these fines, but they can also save upwards of 10 percent of the overall electrical bill, just through the identification of energy inefficiencies.

All buildings across various states are facing a series of individual challenges in meeting new climate-focused energy and emission restrictions. Transparency into how these buildings operate is more important now than ever, and MBCx solutions are an important first step towards securing and leveraging facility transparency to achieve these stringent goals.

Mark Pipher is VP and General Manager of FacilityConneX.