In San Francisco, owners of commercial buildings 25,000 square feet and larger are required to annually measure the energy performance of their buildings – a process known as benchmarking – and report energy use information to the city. Owners of buildings between 10,000-25,000 square feet will begin benchmarking in 2013.
The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) today released a report that details the energy performance of 305 of San Francisco’s municipal facilities during calendar year 2011, including more than 37 million square feet of building area.
Key benchmarking findings include:
- In 2011, the 305 buildings analyzed used just under 3.5 million MMBtu of energy (electricity, natural gas and steam combined) and were responsible for 91,454 tons of CO2 equivalent emissions.
- The overall energy usage of buildings in 2011 declined 3.8 percent from 2010 and 1.1 percent from 2009. This translates into approximately $1 million less in energy costs in 2011 than the previous year.
- As expected, some building types are bigger energy users per square foot than others, for example hospitals and museums (higher energy intensity) versus fire stations and libraries (lower energy intensity).
Of the 30 buildings that were eligible for energy ratings from the EPA, 75 percent performed equal to or better than the national average for similar buildings; and 11 of those buildings performed in the top 25 percent nationwide – the threshold for the Energy Star label. These top performing buildings include the Public Defender’s Office, Mission Mental Health Services, and Chinatown Child Development Center. The Energy Star label has not yet created ratings categories for most other public building types.
San Francisco’s public buildings receive greenhouse-gas-free electricity from the Hetch Hetchy Power system.
Tracking energy usage through benchmarking reveals which facilities are performing well, and helps agencies understand which should be prioritized for improvements. This benchmarking effort is part of the SFPUC’s larger energy efficiency and green building program. The SFPUC has completed over 150 energy efficiency projects in municipal buildings, which are saving the City approximately $4.6M each year.
San Francisco’s ordinance is unique among many green-building initiatives in that it provides owners with actual energy performance information on their buildings year-to-year, not modeled or hypothetical scenarios. It also provides a national energy score so owners can see if their buildings are over or under-performing compared to similar buildings. Audits then give owners specific direction as to which building energy systems need improving, if any, and clear analysis of the costs and benefits of making those improvements.
San Francisco is one of six cities and two states with building energy benchmarking ordinances, including Seattle, New York City, Austin, District of Columbia, Philadelphia and California and Washington State. San Francisco is the first city on the West Coast to release municipal building energy use information following New York City and Washington D.C. last year.