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FEATURE – A first! NYC releases benchmarking data for private sector

February 13, 2013 - In a move to promote transparency around energy use in buildings, New York City, N.Y., has publicly posted 2011 energy benchmarking results for 2065 large commercial properties, which together cover more than 530 million sf.


February 13, 2013
By Alyssa Dalton

According to the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT), this is the first time that any American city, state, or county has disclosed private-sector building energy data from a mandatory benchmarking policy.

“New York has just taken a giant leap for transparency: this is the largest publication ever of metered energy performance data from buildings in a single city,” said IMT executive director Cliff Majersik. “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.”

The 2011 results are posted on the Greener, Greater Buildings Plan website, along with a letter explaining the output scores. The posting of benchmarking results will now be an annual occurrence for all large buildings in New York City, said IMT. Results for large residential buildings will be posted for the first time in the fall of 2013, along with those for commercial and municipal buildings.

Energy use in buildings responsible for roughly 75% of New York City’s emissions, the benchmarking and disclosure of energy use in buildings is the cornerstone of the city’s Greener, Greater Buildings Plan—the most comprehensive policy in the nation addressing energy use in existing buildings—and it is key to achieving the ambitious PlaNYC goal of reducing citywide carbon emissions 30% by 2030, noted the city.

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“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, the director of the NYC mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability. “IMT’s emphasis on data and facts is an important contributor to making that case.”

The benchmarking data also 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. Benchmarking data from 2010 showed that energy-use intensity varies dramatically among the same types of buildings, with the worst-performing buildings using three to five times the amount of energy per square foot as the best.

Under New York’s benchmarking ordinance, building owners annually enter energy and water use data and other pertinent information about their buildings, such as square footage and hours of operation, into the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) free online benchmarking tool, Energy Star Portfolio Manager.