Making Buildings’ Energy Footprints Transparent

ENERGY EFFICIENCY: Power-use scorecards help building managers cut usage

The Press Enterprise, April 9, 2016. Image credit: skeeze

Hooper manages San Francisco’s five-year-old building-efficiency ordinance, created to measure wasted energy in the city’s largest structures, give them a score the public can see and prod owners to lower the lights and thermostats.

San Francisco’s ordinance is the first in California, with Berkeley about to enact one and Los Angeles working on a similar program.

California Energy Scorecard

The ordinance Hooper wrote for San Francisco requires participation by owners of more than 1,800 commercial buildings larger than 10,000 square feet. They report their energy-use data electronically, updating the information every April 1.

The data is crunched according to federal Energy Star guidelines, and each structure is “benchmarked” with a score, from a low of 1 to maximum efficiency at 100. The scores are posted online – the iconic Transamerica Pyramid has an 88 – and Hooper and his team work with property personnel to increase efficiency and reduce consumption.

In November 2015, the Los Angeles City Council directed the city attorney’s office and the building and safety department to draft an ordinance requiring owners of buildings at least 10,000 square feet and city buildings over 7,500 square feet to benchmark and disclose energy and water use each year, according to council documents.

City-owned buildings would first need to report in 2016. Buildings more than 50,000 square feet would report in 2017, more than 25,000 square feet in 2018 and more than 10,000 square feet in 2019.

Building owners would enter building information and usage data, based on utility bills, into the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s online tool, EnergyStar Portfolio Manager. The data would be sent to the building and safety department for public disclosure.

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