Building Rating & Labeling - Commercial Buildings

The Building Asset Rating (BAR) pilot is a collaborative effort of the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) and Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP).

The Building Asset Rating (BAR) pilot was a collaborative effort of the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) and Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP). The two phase pilot was designed to support development of innovative methods to generate building energy ratings as a means to encourage increased investment in the energy efficiency of commercial office buildings.


The BAR pilot builds upon DOER’s 2010 White Paper, An MPG Rating for Commercial Buildings, which addresses design considerations needed to develop a building energy rating system. Through the BAR pilot, DOER and NEEP seek to test groundbreaking methods to create an “asset” rating for office buildings that:

  • provide a whole-building energy analysis
  • consider the performance of the major energy uses within a building, such as the lighting, heating, and cooling systems.

The Building Asset Rating is similar to a miles-per-gallon (MPG) rating for cars or a food nutrition label and would allow an “apples-to-apples” comparison between buildings. Such information could be valuable for real estate market actors in the commercial office building sector where buildings may change owners, investors, and tenants frequently.

Commercial Building Pilot Phases

Phase I: Testing Innovation

With the assistance of the Barr Foundation and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), DOER and NEEP worked closely with the cities of Boston and Cambridge to recruit eleven commercial office buildings to participate in Phase I to test a number of new rating methodologies.

ARUP, an independent design and engineering firm, and The Green Engineer, a sustainable design consulting firm, have assessed the energy use of these eleven buildings through traditional routes.

Three teams – The Weidt Group, Retroficiency, and a partnership of The Cadmus Group and First Fuel – will showcase innovative methods. Located in Boston, Cambridge, and Marlborough, the participating buildings represent a broad spectrum of commercial office building types. Dates of construction range from 1871 to 2010; the smallest building is 32,000 square feet and the largest is over one million square feet. The building typologies include downtown office towers, adaptive reuse facilities, and a suburban office complex. Phase I was complete in Fall 2012

Phase II: Demonstration

With funding provided via a competitive grant process from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Phase II will streamline the assessment of buildings using promising methodologies across a wider sample of buildings in the Greater Boston Area and the Merrimack Valley. Building recruitment for Phase II began in late 2012.

Building Asset Rating Tool

The Building Asset Rating tool is designed to complement existing energy benchmarking tools, notably the EPA Energy Star Portfolio Manager rating. Building energy disclosure on an annual basis using Energy Star Portfolio Manager is increasingly being required by major US cities. The City of Boston announced that they will be rolling out a building energy disclosure ordinance by property owners.

Where Energy Star Portfolio Manager provides an excellent annual snapshot of total annual energy use, the BAR pilot is designed to provide greater detail on how and where a building uses energy to help hone in on energy efficiency investment opportunities, and leverage the nation leading energy efficiency incentives available to commercial properties in our state.

Related Commercial Initiatives & Resources

Information learned through the Building Asset Rating (BAR) pilot will be shared with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) / Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and the State of California  These entities conduct complementary work that will inform the BAR pilot. More information about the DOE / PNNL project  and PNNL market research related to an asset rating program is available online.

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