Energy conservation measures enacted at facilities operated by the City of Seattle have saved the municipality and taxpayers $1.25 million since 2008, according to an official report.
While this is the first time city building energy use has been made public, Seattle says it has a history of monitoring and improving the energy efficiency of its facilities, including recent energy efficiency upgrades at 17 city-run sites, according to Seattle Municipal Buildings: 2011-2012 Energy Performance Report.
One upgrade — a chiller at Seattle Center’s central plant that cools more than one million square feet of space — is projected to cut electricity use by 13 percent.
The report covers 6.2 million square feet of city-owned and operated building space, a process that the city is also requiring owners of mid-sized and large privately owned buildings to do every year.
The assessment found that city-owned downtown buildings are more energy efficient than the national average. The Seattle Municipal Tower has an EPA Energy Star score of 93 out of 100, compared to a national average of 50. This means the building is more energy efficient than 92 percent of similar buildings nationwide.
More than 3,000 people work at this 62-story high rise that uses about 40 percent less energy than a typical building of its size. Regularly monitoring and quick action to address in energy use helps the City keep the building performing at the top of its class. For example, continuous energy tracking led managers to reduce weekend heating and lighting when fewer people use the building.
The city’s extensive public library system uses about 42 percent less energy than other US libraries. Seattle’s libraries use about 61 kBtus of energy for each square foot of space, whereas US libraries on average use about 104 kBtu per square foot, according to the report.
However, Seattle’s fire and police stations are about 55 percent more energy intensive than the national average. Seattles stations use 121 kBtus of energy for each square foot of space, compared to 78 kBtus in then national average.
The city is currently developing a comprehensive Resource Conservation Management Plan to build on its energy efficiency track record. The plan will outline strategies to improve the energy efficiency of the city’s building portfolio by 20 percent by 2020, compared to a 2008 baseline. The Pacific Northwest city is home to the Seattle 2030 District, which aims to dramatically reduce the environmental impacts of facility construction and operations.