A new program to inform building owners and operators, tenants, and prospective buyers on the energy use of buildings, similar to a nutrition label on food or miles-per-gallon ratings on cars, has been launched to encourage the building industry to find ways to cut energy use and costs.

The Building Energy Quotient program, known as Building EQ, will include both As Designed (asset) and In Operation (as operated) ratings for all building types, except residential. It also will provide a detailed certificate with data on actual energy use, energy-demand profiles, indoor-air quality, and other information that will enable building owners to evaluate and reduce their building’s energy use. The program is administered by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).

Those participating in the pilot program are building owners and designers, real-estate developers, and government agencies, including:

• The Durst Organization, the owner, manager, and builder of 9 million sq ft of mid-town Manhattan office and residential properties, will include 4 Times Square, 1155 Avenue of the Americas, and One Bryant Park in New York City.

• The U.S. General Services Administration, the primary agency responsible for the acquisition and management of federal buildings owns or leases 8,600 properties and maintains an inventory of more than 354 million sq ft of workspace for 1.1 million federal employees.

• Wright Runstad and Co. develops, acquires, manages, and leases high-quality commercial office buildings located primarily in the Pacific Northwest, headquartered in Seattle, Wash.

• Ashforth Pacific, in Portland, Ore., a real-estate firm that owns, develops, and invests in assets and provides third-party services, including assets and property management, general contracting, and construction management.

• BNIM Architects, a leader of a new generation of design firms headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., will include The Omega Center for Sustainable Living in Rhinebeck, N.Y.; the Internal Revenue Service, Kansas City Campus, Kansas City, Mo.; and the Fayez S. Sarofin Research Building, home of the Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine for the Prevention of Human Diseases, the University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston.

• Hines, a privately owned real-estate firm involved in real-estate investment, development, and property management worldwide, headquartered in London and Houston, Texas, will place high-profile properties from five major U.S. markets.

• The Detroit-Wayne Joint Building Authority will include the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center, which is home to six branches of city and county government including circuit and probate courts, city and county clerks, and the executive and legislative branches of Detroit.

• The Michigan Department of Management and Budget, which acquires and manages properties for many of the state’s agencies.

• Russell Development Co., which has produced significant commercial buildings in downtown Portland, Ore., will include 200 Market Building.

Through the pilot, Building EQ will allow fine-tuning and final development of the program. In parallel with this effort, ASHRAE has developed a certification program for building energy modelers. Following completion of the pilot program in mid-June, the program is expected to be fully functional by the end of 2010.

Under the program, new buildings will be eligible to receive an As Designed, or asset, rating, which will provide an assessment of the building based on the components specified in the design as well as the results of building energy modeling and simulation. An In Operation rating will be available once the building has at least one year of data on the actual energy use and will be based on a combination of the structure of the building and how it is operated. Existing buildings would be eligible to receive both an As Designed and In Operation rating.