Bench Press: Landmark Philadelphia law makes building energy usage public knowledge

If knowledge is power, the City of Philadelphia is about to become super-powered. In June 2012, Philadelphia City Council enacted a law that requires owners of non-residential buildings of more than 50,000 square feet to track data on energy and water consumption and make those benchmarks publicly available. 

“Energy and water benchmarking measures building performance using industry-standard performance indicators,” says Alex Dews, benchmarking program manager in the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. “The policies provide owners, operators, buyers and tenants with information to guide investments, make more informed real estate decisions and reduce environmental impact of commercial buildings.”

The law is intended to help educate the building industry on opportunities to improve performance and reduce utility costs. Energy and water use data must be tracked via the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager program, a free online tool. The Mayor’s Office of Sustainability and its partners provided outreach and training to support compliance. The first reporting deadline of October 31, 2013 was extended to November 25 due to the federal government shutdown. While the law’s intent is to raise awareness around energy efficiency, violations for noncompliance will be issued in late 2013.

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Story by Julianne Mesaric.