Montgomery County is considering expanding building energy use requirements to the multifamily residential building sector to improve energy conservation.

County Council President Tom Hucker introduced the bill at a council meeting on Tuesday at the request of County Executive Marc Elrich.

Under the bill, certain commercial and multifamily residential buildings would be required to report energy use benchmarking each year. Different standards apply based on gross floor area sizes and the types of buildings.

Energy performance standards would be established to increase energy efficiency and existing buildings and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Elrich would be required to issue regulations to set final performance standards for each building type using the normalized site EUI (energy use intensity) performance metric.

The bill would not apply to a covered building for which more than 50% of the total gross floor area is used for:
● Public assembly in a building without walls
● Transportation, communication or utility infrastructure
● Industrial uses in which the majority of consumed energy is for manufacturing, the generation of electric power or district thermal energy to be consumed offsite, or for other process loads.

According to a staff report, if a building owner could not reasonably meet one or more of the interim or final performance standards because of economics or other uncontrollable circumstances, the owner could submit a proposed building performance improvement plan, subject to approval.

The bill would also establish a Building Performance Improvement Board, the members of which would be appointed by Elrich and confirmed by the council.

Fifteen members would advise the county’s Department of Environmental Protection on implementing building energy performance standards and enforcing the requirements and standards.

The members would include representatives of local electricity or natural gas utilities, owners or managers of affordable housing and multifamily residential buildings market-rate units, and representatives from climate action nonprofits, among others.

Briana Adhikusuma can be reached at briana.adhikusuma@bethesdamagazine.com.