MEP CA AB 1103

From AB 1103 to AB 802

MEP Energy Star CertificationrJust when we were getting used to AB 1103 California State Legislature has nullified the bill and passed its successor. AB 802 is here and it is streamlining the way property managers report their building's energy use. Those involved in commercial real estate likely have many questions about the changes that this bill entails and what it means for them. Here are some of the details about California's newest piece of energy efficiency public policy.

To understand the policy shift that CA AB 802 denotes one must understand the law it is replacing. AB 1103 was a California non-residential building energy use disclosure program. This means that when building owners were looking to lease, finance, re-finance, or sell their entire building they had been required to report on their building's energy use trends using the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager system. AB 1103 included buildings that are 10,000 square feet and over. California AB 802 changes a few of AB 1103's stipulations as well as how we collect and report our data.

One of the major changes brought about from the shift to AB 802 is the inclusion of multi-family buildings. Property Managers will now be required to report the energy consumption of these property types. However, the threshold for required reporting has also been raised to 50,000 square feet. CA AB 802 affects commercial building owners that have 3 or more utility accounts associated with the property and multi-family buildings with 5 or more utility accounts.

The policy shift is already in motion. AB 1103 is no longer in effect as of December 31, 2015. AB 802 will go into effect on January 1st,2017 according to the California Energy Commission. There is a yearlong gap before California AB 802 goes into effect. During this period there is no California energy disclosure policy in effect, but that does not mean we shouldn't be monitoring our energy habits.

Why change the existing law? Well, for one it makes the reporting process easier. I can tell you from personal experience that collecting and inputting utility data is a time consuming process. This process becomes exponentially more cumbersome in multi-meter and multi-tenant buildings. Getting property managers, operators, and tenants on the same page is easier said than done. Oftentimes owners and service companies can get a lot of push back from tenants when collecting energy bills. AB 802 allows Property Managers and Service Provider Companies to go straight to the utility company's records for a property's bills. This circumvents the need to have tenants collect copies of their old bills which often times are missing. This extra step often prolongs the process of analyzing a building's energy footprint, so CA AB 802 will effectively enable property owners and managers to evaluate this more accurately and efficiently. However, commercial buildings with less than 3 utility accounts and multi-family buildings with less than 5 accounts associated with the property will still need authorization from tenants to obtain utility data.

Additionally, AB 802 makes this information public. The hope is to incentivize analysis and modification of building's energy consumption beyond the financial incentives these practices allot property owners. It should be noted though that not everyone is thrilled with the changes. The public disclosure aspect has been cited by some as a troubling shift in the state's disposition. Critics say that instead of encouraging change California AB 802 creates a "shame and blame" status quo that puts unnecessary pressure on property owners and tenants while diminishing their privacy.

Conversely, the opposing camp applauds the bill as facilitating accountability. Though massive changes have been made in the past decade there are many holdouts dragging their feet when it comes to responsible energy consumption. AB 802 proponents laud the bill as a sign of California's changing attitude toward energy sustainability from passive to pro-active and hope that it enables and encourages building owners and operators to make more responsible decisions. Wherever one stands, the bill has been passed and will go into effect with the new year. Though there are no policies in place for 2016 sellers should anticipate many buyers to still be requesting energy use disclosure during the period.

Contact MEP today for questions about sustainable commercial building engineering design, as well as assistance with your ENERGY STAR, LEED, CA AB 802 Benchmarking and Energy Audit needs at 310-782-1410 or Contact Us at