This paper was published as part of the 2022 ACEEE Summer Study conference. 

Building Performance Standards (BPS), already adopted in ten U.S. jurisdictions, are quickly emerging as a powerful tool for improving the energy performance of existing buildings. This strong interest highlights the importance of defining a set of best practices for creating BPS laws that are effective in improving building performance, racially and socially equitable, practical and fair for all stakeholders, and similar enough across jurisdictions to facilitate compliance by portfolios in multiple jurisdictions. To this end, the authors published the first-ever BPS model ordinance to provide a standardized template governments can use to develop effective, equitable BPS policies. Key features of the model ordinance have already been deployed in legislation in Montgomery County, MD and in Denver, CO.

The foundation of the model is its “trajectory approach,” which uses a series of interim performance targets leading up to final standards 15 or more years in the future to prompt building owners to take early action while providing long-term certainty and flexibility to plan for comprehensive, deep renovations. This approach can accommodate nearly any performance metrics that a jurisdiction chooses, though the ordinance recommends metrics to drive energy efficiency, electrification, and better indoor air quality. The model also recommends a Community Accountability Board tasked with reviewing impacts on disinvested communities and recommending strategies to reduce historical inequities.

This paper, “Leveling Up Building Performance Regulations: How Governments Can Craft Equitable, Effective Building Performance Standards to Drive Widespread Market Transformation,” explores how governments can use the model ordinance’s innovative features to address challenges in developing effective and equitable BPS policies, and describes how utilities can aid successful implementation.


Co-authors include:

  • Zachary Hart, Institute for Market Transformation
  • Cliff Majersik, Institute for Market Transformation
  • Julia Eagles, Institute for Market Transformation


For more detail on IMT’s model ordinance or BPS work, please visit

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