New York City Leads on Benchmarking Building Energy Efficiencyby Don Knapp
While the U.S. remains a reluctant player in the global fight against climate change, New York City has emerged as a leader. At last week’s international climate talks in Durban, South Africa, the city received the inaugural World Green Building Council’s Government Leadership Award in “Industry Transformation” for its “Greener, Greater Buildings Plan” (GGBP) – a suite of energy efficiency measures designed to deliver a large scale impact. By concentrating on the largest existing buildings that are responsible for 45% of all citywide carbon emissions, the GGBP is expected to reduce citywide greenhouse gas emissions by 5% while saving hundreds of millions of dollars and creating thousands of new jobs.
In a related development, New York City released its first report on the baseline energy efficiency of its own buildings. Since 2009, the City has energy benchmarked 2,730 buildings, including libraries, police stations, firehouses, schools, courthouses, health, community and family centers, and government offices. As it turns out, NYC government’s municipal buildings fall on both ends of the energy-efficiency spectrum and everywhere in between. Now with the benchmarking information, the City can identify which buildings to target for the greatest energy savings.
About the Greener Greater Buildings Plan
Passed in 2009, the award-winning “Greener Greater Buildings Plan” is regarded as the most comprehensive building energy efficiency policy in the nation. The policy aims to take buildings from start to finish on the path toward significant energy savings. The journey begins with energy benchmarking, a standardized way to measure and rate the energy performance of a building and see how it stacks up against similar buildings.
Learn More: Read ICLEI and IMT's case study on the Plan
About New York's Benchmarking Report
Benchmarking gives building owners and operators a starting point from which to improve energy efficiency. Benchmarking is now underway for 26,000 of the city’s largest privately owned buildings, and was recently completed for nearly 3,000 public buildings. NYC is among seven cities and states in the U.S. that require energy benchmarking of buildings, including Seattle, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Austin, and California and Washington state. Results of the City’s benchmarking efforts for municipal buildings are detailed in the recently released “NYC Benchmarking Report.”
- Since 2009, the City has benchmarked 2,730 buildings including libraries, police stations, firehouses, schools, courthouses, health, community, and family centers, and government offices.
- New York City’s buildings fall in the middle of the road on energy efficiency:
- The 1,162 public schools had an average benchmark score of 53 (on a scale of 1 to 100, with 50 being the national average), slightly better than the national average for K-12 schools.
- Both medical offices and warehouses showed somewhat poorer performance than the national average each with an average benchmark score of 43.
- Courthouses and City offices had average benchmark scores of 54 and59 respectively, which indicates that they performed slightly better than similar buildings nationwide.
- The City’s 108 libraries’ average energy use intensity (EUI) was 22% better than the national average.
- Fire and police stations showed poor average results at 18% and 8% worse than the national average respectively.
- Benchmarking has played a key role in the selection of audit and retrofit projects in City buildings. As of November 2011, DCAS has completed 130 building energy retrofit projects with another 28 in construction and 74 in design; 68 energy audits are currently underway. An additional 650 energy audits managed by the School Construction Authority are expected to be completed over the next ten years.
- Benchmarking is informing the City’s Operations and Maintenance
(O&M) program. O&M practices are the day-to-day activities of a
building's engineer or operator to keep a building operating
effectively. Improving O&M in city buildings is expected to reduce
citywide energy usage 10-15% per year resulting in savings of at least
$51 million and 185,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.