The Seattle Building Energy Benchmarking and Reporting Program

Location: Seattle, United States of America

Population: 608,660 (city area)

Climate: Oceanic

Duration: 2012-ongoing

Sector: Buildings

Funding sources: Public sector

City networks:  C40

Savings: Energy consumption savings.

Solutions: Implementation of an ordinance that requires benchmarking and disclosure for non-residential and multifamily buildings 20,000 square feet (sf) or greater [source].

Multiple benefits: Reduce the carbon emissions in Seattle´s existing buildings.

The benchmarking programme was adopted in January 2010 as Ordinance 123226 (updated in 2012 as Ordinance 123993).

Objective – Assist building owners in reducing energy consumption and costs and thus taking part in the Climate Action Plan goals to decrease carbon emissions in Seattle’s existing buildings.

Solutions – The Seattle Building Energy Benchmarking and Reporting Program requires all residential and commercial buildings of 20,000 sq. ft. or larger to track energy performance annually, more specifically to gather building use details and actual energy use data for each building and report to the City (by April 1 each year) and publish upon request this information to current and prospective tenants, buyers or lenders.

Reporting is carried out through the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Funding – During the policy proposal phase (2007-08), the budget consisted of part-time contributions from different existing staff members in other departments. Subsequently, the overall budget composition for the implementation phase roughly relied on 75% grant funds, 15% city funding and 10% in penalty revenue.

Innovation – N/A

Success factors – 1) Political and stakeholder assistance. An essential driving force of success has been political support from the City’s Mayor, Council members, department directors, and stakeholder support in leading the establishment of the programme; 2) Funding. Another important driver was the assuring of funding from the Federal Government, local energy efficiency organisations and private foundations; 3) Existing knowledge base. Identifying the most suitable buildings to address was supported by the presence of a knowledge base on the residential and commercial stock in the City. This was based on the City-created database using data from the local tax assessor’s office; 4) Motivations of high compliance. Outreach and stakeholder engagement efforts are recognised as the main drivers leading to the high compliance rate; 5) Citywide energy reduction targets. The programme’s success has also been motivated by the wider City resolve since 2005 to reduce carbon emissions; 6) Inter-city exchanges. Sharing of best practices and mutual testing of different approaches with other municipalities seeking similar policies was very useful; 7) Utility support. Another important driver of the programme´s success was the support from utilities concerning data exchange.

Significant outcomes:

  • The programme has achieved a 93% compliance rate;

Synergies with local policies:

  • The Seattle Climate Action Plan established in 2013, focuses on city actions that decrease greenhouse emissions and also assist vibrant neighbourhoods, economic prosperity, and social equity. Actions target the greatest need and impact areas: road transportation, building energy, and waste.
  • Seattle Energy Code is a construction code that guarantees that new buildings are efficient from the start. Every three years, the City of Seattle updates the energy codes that govern commercial and multifamily buildings to make them even more effective and move toward a clean energy future.

Political alignment:

Marketability: The benchmarking programme has a big potential for replicability among other cities.

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Sector: Buildings

Country / Region: United States

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

In 1 user collection: Good practices of cities

Knowledge Object: User generated Initiative

Published by: Urban Efficiency I

Publishing year: 2022