ENERGY STAR Certification - COVID-19 Update

Update on benchmarking and ENERGY STAR certification for U.S. commercial buildings impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic

Thank you for your patience as we continue to assess the impacts on 1-100 ENERGY STAR scores resulting from changes in building operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. We at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are pleased to share with you this updated guidance on benchmarking in Portfolio Manager and applying for 2020 ENERGY STAR certification.

NOTE: This update applies only to commercial buildings in the U.S. Natural Resources Canada will be issuing separate guidance for Canadian properties.

No changes have been made to ENERGY STAR certification for industrial plants.For information or questions about ENERGY STAR certification of industrial plants, please contact Danny Macri (for plants in the U.S.) or Natural Resources Canada (for plants in Canada).

Our first priority continues to be the health and safety of all of our stakeholders. The guidance below will allow more of you to apply for ENERGY STAR certification while complying with the recommendations of medical experts for reducing the risk of exposure to the coronavirus.

Please visit www.energystar.gov/covidupdates for a summary of ENERGY STAR certification guidance issued previously, as well as FAQs related to operational impacts from COVID-19.

NEW GUIDANCE

Guidance for additional certification eligibility depends on whether your building’s operations were impacted by COVID-19.

If your building operations were impacted by COVID-19 . . .

With exceptions for some retail stores and hotels, you may now apply for 2020 ENERGY STAR certification using data through July 2020.

After extensive analysis to assess the impacts of extreme changes in operations on ENERGY STAR scores, we can now accept applications for ENERGY STAR certification with a Period Ending Date (PED) through July 31, 2020, regardless of the changes in operations which may have occurred in the building due to COVID-19. Before applying with PEDs from March-July 2020, applicants must have updated “Number of Workers on Main Shift” (or “Number of Full-Time Equivalent Workers” for hospitals) and “Weekly Operating Hours” (or “Weekend Operations (yes/no) for K-12 schools) use details as needed to reflect such changes. IMPORTANT EXCEPTION - Retail Stores and Hotels that had a period when they were completely shut down will not be eligible to apply for certification if the period covered by an application includes more than 60 days of closure. See this FAQ for more information.

For all buildings where operations have been impacted by COVID-19, if you would like to apply with a PED after July 31, 2020, we strongly recommend that you wait to apply until EPA provides further guidance. EPA will be providing this guidance on certification eligibility for periods from August 2020 and later by mid-November. Waiting to apply will decrease the likelihood of your application being placed on hold and you having to make edits to your application in the future.

If your building operations were unaffected by COVID-19 . . .

You may continue to apply using EPA’s regular certification rules.

If your application includes only time when your building was operating normally, and your site visit was conducted during normal operations (or you can reuse the site visit from a 2019 certification), you can apply now and we will process your application.

If you are unsure of whether you should apply now or wait, please contact EPA and we will advise you on the best course of action.

NEXT STEPS AND FUTURE GUIDANCE ON BENCHMARKING AND CERTIFICATION ELIGIBILITY

We are continuing our assessment of the impacts of extended periods of reduced operations on ENERGY STAR scores and will provide updated benchmarking and certification guidance for periods after July 2020 in our next update planned for mid-November. While our assessment is still ongoing, we would like to inform those with K-12 schools in their portfolio that there is a high likelihood that restrictions may be required for K-12 school applications with PEDs of August 2020 and later. Any such restrictions will be described in our mid-November communication, but those with K-12 schools that qualify for certification with a PED of July 2020 or earlier may want to apply using one of these earlier dates.

To allow sufficient time to apply for certification after the mid-November guidance is issued, the deadline for 2020 certification applications has been extended to February 10, 2021. In the meantime, we recommend that you update use details for all properties as described above and continue to enter your actual energy use data as you normally do. We thank you for your patience and understanding, and we hope you are all staying safe in this difficult time.

By Beth Gucciardi | | Benchmarking, ENERGY STAR Certification, ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager |
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