A new program to inform building owners and operators, tenants and prospective buyers on the energy use of buildings -- similar to a nutrition label on food or miles per gallon ratings on cars -- is designed to encourage the building industry to find ways to cut energy use and costs.

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. The program is administered by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).

“Information on a building energy’s use is the critical first step in making the necessary changes and choices to reduce energy use and costs,” Gordon Holness, ASHRAE president, said. “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; the European Union; and Australia.

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

•The Durst Organization, the owner, manager and builder of 9 million square feet of mid-town Manhattan office and residential properties, will include 4 Times Square, 1155 Avenue of the Americas, and One Bryant Park in New York City in the pilot.

•The U.S. General Services Administration, the primary agency responsible for the acquisition and management of federal buildings 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. develops, acquires, manages and leases high-quality commercial office buildings located primarily in the Pacific Northwest, headquartered in Seattle.

•Ashforth Pacific (Portland, OR) a diversified real estate firm that owns, develops and invests in assets and provides third-party services, including assets and property management, general contracting and construction management.

•BNIM Architects, a leader of a new generation of design firms headquartered in Kansas City, will include The Omega Center for Sustainable Living in Rhinebeck, NY; the Internal Revenue Service, Kansas City Campus, Kansas City; and the Fayez S. Sarofin Research Building, home of the Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine for the Prevention of Human Diseases, the University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston, in the pilot.

•Hines, a privately owned real estate firm involved in real estate investment, development and property management worldwide headquartered in London and Houston, Texas, will place high-profile properties from five major U.S. market  in the pilot.

•The Detroit-Wayne Joint Building Authority will include the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center, which is home of six branches of city and county government including Circuit and Probate Courts, City and County Clerks and the Executive and Legislative branches of the City of Detroit, in the pilot.

•The Michigan Department of Management and Budget, which acquires and manages properties for many of the state’s agencies.

•Russell Development Co., which has produced significant commercial buildings in downtown Portland, OR, will include 200 Market Building in the pilot."The Durst Organization is proud to assist ASHRAE with this pilot program,” Don Winston, P.E., vice president technical services, The Durst Organization, said. “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. 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."

Through the pilot program, the Building EQ program will allow fine-tuning and final development of the program. In parallel with this effort, ASHRAE has developed a certification program for building energy modelers. Following completion of the pilot program in mid-June, the program is expected to be fully functional by the end of 2010.

Under the program, new buildings will be eligible to receive an As Designed, or asset, rating, which provides an assessment of the building based on the components specified in the design and is based on 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 an As Designed and In Operation rating.

“With procedures for both an As Designed and In Operation rating, building owners can make side-by-side comparisons that could further reconcile differences between designed and measured energy use on an ongoing basis,” Holness said.

For more information, visit www.buildingEQ.com.