Article Detail

News & Knowledge

Energy Efficiency Ratings for Buildings

December 01, 2021

If you have bought or sold property recently, you may recall seeing a provision in the contract for sale and purchase relating to the Florida Building Energy-Efficiency Rating Act, which became law in 1993 and can be found in Section 553.996, Florida Statutes. However, chances are that you did not pay much attention to it.

The purpose of this statute is to identify systems for rating the energy-efficiency of buildings. The Florida legislature determined that it is in the best interest of consumers “to encourage the consideration of energy-efficiency rating systems in the market so as to provide market rewards for energy-efficient buildings and to those persons or companies designing, building, or selling energy-efficient buildings.”

According to the statute, energy-efficiency rating systems for buildings must, at a minimum:

(i) Take into account local climate conditions, construction practices, and building use;
(ii) Be compatible with standard federal rating systems and state building codes and standards, where applicable; and
(iii) Provide a means of analyzing the relative energy efficiency of buildings upon the sale of new or existing residential, public, or commercial buildings.

The statute charges energy-efficiency rating system providers to prepare rating information relevant to various types of building that must include (without limitation):

(i) How to analyze the building’s energy-efficiency rating;
(ii) Comparisons to statewide averages for new and existing construction of that class;
(iii) Information concerning methods to improve the building’s energy-efficiency rating; and
(iv) A notice to residential purchasers that the energy-efficiency rating may qualify the purchaser for an energy-efficient mortgage from lending institutions.

Energy raters are certified by the state and can be hired to perform ratings on buildings that do not already have them. If the building was constructed after the statute was passed in 1993, it is likely that a rating was already performed, and may have been the subject of sticker posted in the building. You may have seen similar stickers on hot water heaters and air conditioning units to rate their energy efficiency. If you need a rating performed, many real estate brokers can provide referrals to licensed providers.

Per this statute, a prospective purchaser of a building for occupancy must be given “information” at the time of or before the purchaser’s execution of the contract for sale and purchase “which notifies the purchaser of the option for an energy-efficiency rating on the building.” The nature of the “information” is not clear, but to evidence compliance with the statute it is not unusual for drafters to include a notice in the contract that the purchaser can obtain an energy-efficiency rating on the building, presumably at the purchaser’s expense, if desired.

A sample clause that a party can put in that contract may read as follows:


Gary M. Kaleita is a shareholder at Lowndes and has been certified by the Florida Bar as a specialist in real estate law since 1993. He can be reached by phone at 407-418-6334 or


With more than 30 years of experience in real estate law, including over 20 years as a Board-certified expert in the field, Gary Kaleita has acquired the ability to navigate the complexities of sophisticated real estate deals with relative ease.

Gary has a wide variety of experience in real estate development, finance and transactions, condominiums, property owners’ associations, commercial leasing, commercial lending, and title insurance.

Gary enjoys a reputation for anticipating and avoiding problems, rather than merely reacting to them. He has years of experience handling purchases, sales and financings of commercial and residential projects, including office, industrial, retail, multi-family, single-family, condominium, resort, hotel and golf course properties. Gary has prepared and negotiated contracts for sale and purchase, performed due diligence investigations, and handled all aspects of closings, including issuance of title insurance and legal opinions. He has also performed tax free exchanges (both forward and reverse) under Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code, and has handled closings for housing revenue bond financing transactions with the Florida Housing Finance Corporation and various local housing finance authorities.

In the area of real estate development, Gary has assisted developers in obtaining land use approvals, plat approvals and permits for various developments from a number of jurisdictions in Central Florida, including planned developments (PD’s) and Developments of Regional Impact (DRI’s). He has drafted and negotiated complex land use documents, including development agreements, cost-sharing agreements, declarations of covenants, conditions, restrictions and easements. He also has experience in mall and shopping center developments, including outparcels, and has assisted developers with the selection, formation and operation of business entities, including commercial and residential property owners associations. He has extensive experience with the formation and operation of both commercial and residential condominiums as well.

In addition, Gary has established somewhat of a boutique practice by acting as local counsel to help out-of-state lenders, investors and law firms navigate the complexities of Florida real estate law. He is frequently engaged by large national and international law firms needing assistance on a variety of issues for their clients doing business in Florida. Gary regularly provides advice on Florida law and custom pertaining to purchase and sale contracts as well as loan documents, addresses local due diligence issues, answers questions involving titles, surveys and title insurance, and provides Florida legal opinions.

Not just another real estate lawyer, before pursuing his career in law Gary served as a U.S. Naval officer on active duty for 4 years in the Mediterranean Sea, first with a patrol gunboat squadron in Italy and then at a communications station in Greece. During this period he traveled extensively throughout Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. He believes his military experience is the source of the practical approach he has developed to problem solving.

Gary also took the initiative, after a homeowner in his own neighborhood was mauled by a Florida black bear in 2013, of researching what his homeowners’ association could do to limit the likelihood of future attacks. In the process, he became an expert in the subject of “bear-wise” communities and drafted a policy that his own homeowners’ association adopted, thereby becoming the first residential community to be officially recognized as bear-wise by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). He has since written and spoken extensively on this subject, serves on the FWC’s Central Bear Management Unit Stakeholder Group, and has become a resource for FWC to educate other communities on the importance of bear-wise practices in areas of Florida containing black bear habitat.

Gary focuses on finding pragmatic solutions to complex problems, recognizing that clients want sensible and realistic advice in a timely manner so they can go about their business.

Chambers USA (2015)* reports that Gary has substantial experience acting as lender’s counsel and is acclaimed by market sources as an “extremely responsive, very practical and reasonable” practitioner.

*We make no guarantees or promises that the reader will realize the same or similar results

Meritas Law Firms Worldwide logo