more on: energyregulation

The impact of mandatory energy audits

on building energy use

+ Constantine Kontokosta, Danielle Spiegel-Feld, Sokratis Papadopoulos


The impact of mandatory energy audits on building energy use

Nature Energy volume 5, pages 309–316 (2020)

Cities are increasingly adopting energy policies that reduce information asymmetries and knowledge gaps through data transparency, including energy disclosure and mandatory audit requirements for existing buildings. Although such audits impose non-trivial costs on building owners, their energy use impacts have not been empirically evaluated. Here we examine the effect of a large-scale mandatory audit policy—New York City’s Local Law 87—on building energy use, using detailed audit and energy data between 2011 and 2016 for approximately 4,000 buildings. This specific policy context, in which the compliance year is randomly assigned, provides a unique opportunity to explore the audit effect without the self-selection bias found in studies of voluntary audit policies. We find energy use reductions of approximately –2.5% for multifamily residential buildings and –4.9% for office buildings. The results suggest that mandatory audits, by themselves, create an insufficient incentive to invest in energy efficiency at the scale needed to meet citywide carbon-reduction goals.


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Constantine E. Kontokosta, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Urban Science and Planning and Director of the Civic Analytics program at the NYU Marron Institute of Urban Management. He also directs the Urban Intelligence Lab and holds cross-appointments at the Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP) and the Department of Civil and Urban Engineering at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, and is affiliated faculty at the NYU Wagner School of Public Service.

Danielle is the Executive Director at the Guarini Center where her research focuses on urban environmental law and sustainable energy policy. She is also an adjunct professor.

Sokratis Papadopoulos is a PhD candidate in the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, as well as a research affiliate of the Civic Analytics Program at the Marron Institute.

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