First-year results are in for Philadelphia’s benchmarking initiative

BY Burns Mechanical IN Energy, Philadelphia Benchmarking

Philly benchmarkingResults are available from the first year of Philly’s benchmarking energy disclosure process. See below for key findings or visit and click on “See the 2012 Results Report.”

Key findings of the 2012 report include:

  1. Ratable buildings in Philadelphia have an average ENERGY STAR score of 64, well above the nationwide average of 50.
  2. Hundreds of buildings fall below this national average, demonstrating the opportunity represented by energy efficiency retrofits.
  3. Compliance rates were similar to benchmarking programs in other cities, but improved outreach and support is planned for Year 2.

The new law passed in 2012 requires that all buildings in the City of Philadelphia greater than 50,000 square feet (excluding residential and most manufacturing) must be tracked and their energy usage patterns reported publicly on an annual basis. According to the law, buildings that failed to disclose their 2012 energy and water data by the Fall 2013 deadline were subject to a $300 fine the first month their data is late, and a $100/day penalty following the initial 30 days.

A recent EPA study showed that commercial buildings using Portfolio Manager to benchmark their energy consumption consistently over three years experienced an average energy reduction of 2.4% each year without making any capital investments – a case of management purely through measurement. Based on personal experiences with energy retrofitting more than 30 million square feet of Pennsylvania’s buildings, I’ve found that those making capital investments can cost effectively save up to 50% from their annual energy spend, with “cost effectively” defined as capturing an attractive Return On Investment (ROI) in the mind of the building owner. The average savings of a strong energy retrofit investment is usually between 15 and 20 percent.

Another likely outcome of benchmarking is receiving ENERGY STAR Certification. This is an increasingly important certification for Class A office buildings that want to attract energy-conscious tenants.