PHILADELPHIA (June 20, 2019) — Today, Councilwoman Reynolds Brown (At-Large) introduced a bill to establish a Building Energy Performance Policy for commercial structures. Since 2013, to help achieve the goal and vision of a clean and energy efficient city, Philadelphia has required all non-residential buildings over 50,000 square feet to report their energy and water usage annually through a benchmarking program. This bill introduced today would require large non-residential buildings to confirm their status as high-performing facilities or to perform a building tune-up to save money and cut carbon pollution.
Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown stated, “Taking action on climate change is a vital priority for the citizens of Philadelphia. Having energy efficient buildings is the most effective way we can reduce emissions and more toward the Mayor’s climate goals, which call for an 80% reduction in our carbon emissions by 2050.”
There are around 2,000 non-residential buildings that are currently benchmarking annually. These buildings account for less than 0.5 percent of all buildings in Philadelphia, but roughly 15 percent of the citywide carbon footprint. Conducting a tune-up would allow building owners to ensure their existing systems are operating efficiently and to bring the building up to a state of good repair to improve energy performance.
Alex Dews, Executive Director, Green Building United stated, “This proposal demonstrates Councilwoman Reynolds Brown’s continued commitment to local climate action. Buildings and industry account for the vast majority of carbon emissions in Philadelphia and improving the energy efficiency of large buildings is the most cost most effective strategy for reducing emissions, and also creates the most local economic benefit. We look forward to working with Councilwoman Reynolds Brown and City Council on making meaningful progress on climate change in Philadelphia.”
Buildings that require an energy tune-up would undergo an inspection conducted by a qualified tune-up specialist. The inspection would produce a list of corrective actions that could be taken to improve efficiency. Any recommended low-cost adjustments and minor repairs within a certain return-on-investment (ROI) timeframe would be required within a certain financial threshold. The ROI timeframe and financial threshold will be determined in partnership with the building community.
Building owners would perform the initial inspection by September 30, 2021 and schedule another tune-up to be performed at least once every five years thereafter.
Christine Knapp, Director of the Office of Sustainability stated, “Buildings account for almost 80% of Philadelphia’s carbon footprint, which is why this legislation is such an important step in helping the City achieve its climate action goals. We thank Councilmember Reynolds Brown for her continued leadership on these important issues.”
Philadelphia’s benchmarking program is considered a best practice for other cities who want to cut energy costs and carbon pollution. Buildings in Philadelphia that have benchmarked every year since 2013 have saved an average of 6 percent on their energy bills.
Building on this success, Powering Our Future: A Clean Energy Vision for Philadelphia estimates that annual cost savings for buildings that complete tune-ups could exceed $50,000,000., The goal of this legislation is for the program to result in long-term cost savings and carbon reductions for the City’s building owners and their tenants.
Photo: J. Fusco/Visit Philadelphia