87% of Seattle’s Large Buildings Report Energy Usage

The vast majority of large building owners and managers in Seattle are now tracking and reporting building energy performance to the city under Seattle’s energy benchmarking law.

The city now has 2011 energy data on more than 87 percent of commercial and multifamily buildings 50,000 square feet or larger. This represents about 1,160 individual properties and more than 200 million square feet of building space.

Stephen Chandler, facilities manager at Verity Credit Union, says since 2008, the company has reduced its annual energy consumption by 20 percent by tracking its use through benchmarking and making cost-effective energy efficiency improvements.

For 2012, Seattle’s Energy Benchmarking and Reporting Program requires owners of commercial and multifamily apartment and condo buildings 20,000 square feet or larger to annually benchmark their building’s energy performance and report benchmarking data to the city.

Building owners must track usage through the US EPA’s Portfolio Manager. Benchmarking tracks the total amount of energy a building uses and allows comparisons of energy performance to similar buildings.

Once all building owners have reported, more than 290 million square feet or about 4,000 buildings will be regularly tracking and reporting their energy use to the city. Fines are assessed for failure to submit a benchmarking report.

Seattle is one of a growing list of cities with energy benchmarking and reporting requirements. Other major cities that have passed legislation include New York City, San Francisco, Austin, Washington, DC and Philadelphia.

Unlike many of these ordinances, Seattle’s does not require public disclosure of building energy information. However, Seattle’s law requires that owners make energy information available to tenants, buyers or financial institutions.

Some building owners in Seattle also participate in a 2030 Challenge, similar to that in Pittsburgh, where they voluntarily collaborate to reduce the energy usage of their buildings by 50 percent by 2030.

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