Under NRS 331,070, SPWD’s Buildings & Grounds Section manages and has jurisdiction over approximately 9 million square feet of the State’s buildings. Other state agencies that own buildings include Department of Corrections, Department of Transportation, Nevada System of Higher Education, Department of Military, Department of Health & Human Services, the Legislature, Department of Public Safety, State Parks, Department of Wildlife, and Department of Agriculture.
The SPWD Code and Compliance Section’s building official is the authority having jurisdiction over all buildings and structures on property of the state or held in trust for any division of state government (NRS 341.100 (9)). This authority extends to code adoption, including the adoption of energy codes (NRS 341.091).
A program for commercial and multifamily buildings might involve the GOE, the PUCN, the Treasury Department if considering a tax credit, and the Water Resources Division for water use. Each agency may have authority to deal with some part of the program.
A number of states and the City of Reno have adopted programs for “benchmarking” (or comparing) the energy and water use of buildings using the U.S. EPA’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager tool. These programs incorporate one or more of the following elements:
- Applicable buildings must track and report their annual energy use using the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager tool.
- Benchmarking data will be publicly disclosed for applicable buildings.
- Utilities must provide applicable buildings with aggregated whole-building energy-use data in a format compatible with the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager tool.
- Utilities must be able to provide this data and building owners must report annual energy usage.
- State agencies must lease space in buildings that have earned ENERGY STAR certification, where possible.
- Applicable buildings must reduce energy use (or, in some states, “energy use intensity”) by a certain percentage (e.g., 20%) by a certain date (e.g., 2030).
- Applicable building owners must seek to obtain ENERGY STAR certification for all eligible facilities.
- Applicable commercial buildings must disclose energy performance metrics to a prospective buyer, lessee, or lender.
- Applicable buildings must disclose their 1–100 ENERGY STAR score to a purchaser or prospective purchaser of the facility before the time of sale.
- New construction buildings of more than 10,000 square feet must meet state energy code targets using the ENERGY STAR Target Finder tool or equivalent methodology (SPWD adopted codes in NAC 341.045, and 341.301 – 341.346, already exist and are applicable to all construction/buildings on state property).
- Applicable buildings must comply with performance goals or follow compliance options.
- An income tax credit is available to encourage private-sector design and construction of energy-efficient, sustainable buildings. To qualify, commercial applicants must demonstrate that the building is 60% more efficient than an average building of the same type using the ENERGY STAR Target Finder tool; residential applicants must demonstrate that ENERGY STAR Homes certification has been earned.
Other programs apply to commercial and multifamily buildings of a given size (e.g., larger than 25,000 or 50,000 square feet). Usually, the legislature passes a statute specifically drafted to establish the program. In some cases, states began with a program for state-owned, -leased, or -managed buildings and later adopted a program for commercial and multifamily buildings.
Some programs establish mandatory requirements (e.g., for state-owned buildings or buildings larger than 50,000 square feet); others are voluntary (e.g., New Mexico’s income tax credit for efficient, sustainable buildings).
For buildings owned by the State of Nevada, an executive order could set goals for energy and water efficiency and direct state agencies to benchmark and track building energy and water use and make improvements to achieve efficiency goals. The GOE has authority to establish a program to track energy (but not water) use in buildings owned or occupied by the State (NRS 701.218). The GOE has already completed one such program (State Buildings: Monitoring Natural Gas and Electricity Use). Under existing regulations, capital improvement projects for state buildings larger than 20,000 square feet must meet ENERGY STAR standards for energy and water efficiency (NAC 341.346).
For commercial and multifamily buildings in Nevada, a benchmarking program might involve several state agencies, each of which may have authority for part of the program. For example:
- GOE: conservation of energy in buildings, promote incentives for energy conservation
- PUCN: require utilities to provide aggregated, whole-building energy use data or automated benchmarking data through ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager
- Nevada Division of Water Resources and various water authorities (e.g., the Las Vegas Valley Water District, Truckee Meadows Water Authority): aggregated, whole-building water use data or automated benchmarking data through ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, water-use efficiency standards, incentives, rebates
- Department of Taxation: tax credits
For example, the GOE director has authority to:
- Adopt regulations for the conservation of energy in buildings (NRS 701.220(1));
- Adopt any regulations the director determines necessary to carry out the duties of the Office of Energy (NRS 701.170(4));
- Recommend to state agencies, local governments, and appropriate private persons and entities, standards for conservation of energy (NRS 701.200(1));
- Encourage the maximum utilization of existing sources of energy in the state (NRS 701.180(3));
- Prepare a comprehensive state energy plan that provides for promotion of, among other things:
- Energy-use reduction, conservation, and efficiency (NRS 701.190(1));
- Creation of incentives for energy-use reduction, conservation, and efficiency (NRS 701.190(2)(c)); and
- Any other matter relevant to energy use, conservation, and efficiency.
This policy includes elements that may fall within the authority of several agencies. The most-efficient way to establish such a program may be through new, special purpose legislation (like that adopted in a number of states), rather through a patchwork of existing legal authority involving multiple agencies. EPA’s Benchmarking Programs and Policies Leveraging ENERGY STAR lists a number of state programs (including New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and the State of Washington) that could serve as models for Nevada legislation or executive orders. The Reno Energy and Water Efficiency Program (Reno Administrative Code Chapter 14.30) could also serve as a model.