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NYC’s Energy Benchmarking Report Finds Multifamily Buildings Inefficient

Linda Hardesty

Energy Manage NYCNew York City has released the 2012 energy data for all buildings required to annually benchmark under its Local Law 84. This second annual energy-use report is the first in the nation to publicly disclose data for large multifamily buildings.

With more than 9,000 self-reported multifamily properties, the new data set effectively more than triples the size of the first year’s list. The data comes from mandatory energy benchmarking in more than 26,000 buildings that are over 50,000 square feet. The data, which accounts for about 2.25 billion square feet of space, is input into the EPA’s Portfolio Manager software and provides an Energy Star score for buildings.

According to The Atlantic Cities, 2 percent of New York’s properties account for 48 percent of the city’s energy use. And about 75 percent of the city’s largest buildings are multi-family residential properties, many of which are highly inefficient, but have the problem of tenant versus owner conflict: If the owner spends the capital for upgrades, it’s the tenants who benefit.

The first benchmarking report released in late 2012 showed some interesting anomalies, such as the fact that some old buildings use less energy than some so-called “energy-efficient” modern buildings.  This second report begins the process of following trends.

According to a Natural Resources Defense Council blog, here are some top findings/trends from the 2013 report:

  • The city’s median Energy Star score increased from 64 to 67, possibly indicating that benchmarking is causing an awareness of energy usage, resulting in some energy savings actions.
  • New York City’s buildings are more efficient than the national average, perhaps because they are older and more solidly built, suggests Melissa Wright, author of the NRDC blog. Or they might score better because they are more intensely used, both in terms of occupant density and operating hours.
  • Retail businesses can greatly affect the energy rankings of a building; some retail businesses being very intense energy users, while others are very light users. Multifamily residential buildings, on the other hand, showed very consistent energy consumption.

Eight other cities also mandate energy benchmarking – Austin, Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, DC. Chicago and Washington, DC, intend to require large multi-family buildings to participate in mandatory energy benchmarking in the coming years.

Photo Credit: New York City Skyline via Shutterstock



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