How much energy do New York City’s vast commercial buildings consume? See for yourself.
Ushering in a new era of transparency, New York City has publicly posted its 2011 energy benchmarking results for 2,065 large commercial properties that cover more than 530 million square feet.
AngMoKio / Wikimedia Commons
|New York City is the first major U.S. jurisdiction to disclose private-sector building energy data collected from a mandatory benchmarking policy.|
The data represent a major milestone for the city—the first U.S. city, state, or county that has disclosed private-sector building energy data from a mandatory benchmarking policy, according to city officials.
“New York has just taken a giant leap for transparency,” said Cliff Majersik, Institute for Market Transformation executive director. “This is the largest publication ever of metered energy performance data from buildings in a single city.”
He added: “Markets need information to function, and this will let New Yorkers know how much energy the buildings around them are using. It will allow them to get crucial real-estate information that hasn’t been available until now.”
Under the city’s Local Law 84, all privately owned properties with individual buildings of more than 50,000 square feet or multiple buildings with a combined square footage over 100,000 square feet are required to measure and report their annual energy and water use.
The 2011 Benchmarking Report results are posted on the city’s Greener, Greater Buildings Plan website, along with a letter explaining the output scores.
Benchmarking results will now be posted annually for all large buildings in New York City.
Results for large residential buildings will be posted for the first time in the fall of 2013, along with 2012 results for commercial and municipal buildings.
The building owners used the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) free online benchmarking tool, Energy Star Portfolio Manager, to track their energy and water usage.
Data Available in Report
Of the 2,065 benchmarked commercial properties, most (1,298) were in Manhattan. Of the rest, 283 are in Queens, 281 in Brooklyn, 153 in the Bronx, and 50 in Staten Island, according to city officials.
The output includes the following property information:
• Borough, Block and Lot (BBL);
• Building Identification Numbers (BINs);
• Number of buildings on the lot;
• Total gross square footage, as self-reported; and
• Primary building use, as identified in EPA’s Portfolio Manager.
The usage output metrics include:
• Site Energy Use Intensity (EUI), which is a measure of the energy used at the site on a per-square-foot basis;
• Weather-normalized Source EUI, which takes into account generation and distribution losses;
• Greenhouse gas emissions;
• Water use per square foot; and
• Energy Star scores for buildings where applicable.
‘Greener, Greater’ Plan
Energy use in buildings accounts for about 75 percent of New York City’s overall carbon emissions. Measuring (benchmarking) and disclosing that usage is a cornerstone of the city’s Greener, Greater Buildings Plan.
Officials call the plan the nation’s most comprehensive in addressing energy use in existing buildings—and it is key to achieving Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC goal of reducing citywide carbon emissions 30 percent by 2030.
|The energy used in America’s buildings is responsible for almost 8 percent of global carbon emissions and costs Americans more than $500 billion every year, the report says.|
“Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council concluded that mandatory disclosure to the city and public dissemination of the results would be the most effective and transparent route to instilling energy efficiency in the buildings sector,” said David Bragdon, director of the mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability.
The city has also disclosed benchmarking results for 2,657 municipal buildings totaling 273 million square feet for 2010 and 2011.
Jackpot for Retrofitting Companies?
The data can be used to assess where cost-effective building improvements can be made and to allow the market to find those opportunities, city officials say.
And since the benchmarking requirement is annual, the city and the market will be able to reward buildings that improve their performance year after year.
The data also have enabled the city to analyze for the first time how building energy use varies with building age, location, size, fuel mix, and an assortment of other factors.
Energy Use Intensity
The data showed that energy-use intensity varied dramatically among the same types of buildings, with the worst-performing buildings consuming three to five times more energy than the most efficient ones.
Tremendous amounts of energy could be saved by improving the efficiency of those poor performers, officials say.
Even with accurate data, the benchmarking results still require interpretation.
For example, there are many reasons a building might have high energy intensity, city officials said. While the cause may be inefficient operations or outmoded equipment, it could also simply be due to a high occupant density or longer hours of operation. High energy intensity does not always mean energy waste.