Flurry of New Building Efficiency Ordinances in Major U.S. Cities

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by
John Jameson, ICF
on
Jan 10, 2017

Local government partners of the Better Buildings Challenge closed out 2016 with a flurry of major energy efficiency measures that will drive significant energy performance improvements and provide models for other city action across the country.

Denver

On December 19, 2016, the City of Denver passed the Energize Denver program, requiring the energy performance of large multi-family and commercial buildings be tracked and reported on an annual basis, starting with buildings over 50,000 square feet in 2017 and over 25,000 square feet thereafter. The City estimates that the ordinance will result in energy savings of 2 to 3 percent per year. The new ordinance builds on the City’s ongoing actions to improve the energy performance of its municipal buildings and facilities. As part of the Better Buildings Challenge, the City of Denver has already achieved an 8% reduction in municipal building energy use intensity from a 2011 baseline (as of 2015).

Los Angeles

On December 15, 2016, Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti signed the Existing Building Energy and Water Efficiency ordinance, which was passed unanimously by the City Council. The ordinance is the result of two years of stakeholder meetings, and requires annual reporting of energy and water use of all buildings over 20,000 square feet, as well as efficiency actions such as audits or retrofits at least once every five years. These actions build on the City’s steps to improve energy performance in municipal buildings, including benchmarking more than 250 municipal buildings to date, and are part of the Mayor’s Sustainable City pLAn that just released its first annual report. Los Angeles is achieving energy savings through work at its Central Library, as well as throughout the community by leveraging Public Private Partnerships for upgrades in facilities like Advance Paper Box. Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) has also committed to reducing energy use 25% by 2020 through their Streamlined Tri-Resource Efficiency Programs and upgrades to filtration plants.

Orlando

On December 14, 2016, Orlando’s City Council passed the Building Energy and Water Efficiency Strategy.  The policy will require building benchmarking and reporting of energy and water usage in certain large buildings above 50,000 square feet and energy audits for certain buildings with below-average energy performance. Over the next 15 years, the strategy is expected to deliver energy cost savings of over $200 million and $64 million in avoided health care costs from improved air quality. The City has already achieved 13% energy savings since 2011 (as of 2015) across a portfolio of 6.8 million square feet through energy upgrades and performance improvements across a range of building types, including fire stations and community centers.

Pittsburgh

On October 21, 2016, Mayor Bill Peduto signed building benchmarking legislation following unanimous City Council passage. The legislation requires nonresidential buildings over 50,000 square feet to report annual energy and water use data, and is the result of several years of consensus building among stakeholder groups. Through the Better Buildings Challenge, Pittsburgh has already achieved 4% energy savings across a portfolio of 1.77 million square feet since 2010 (as of 2015), in part due to programs such as the Green Initiatives Trust Fund.