NYC Shows Dramatic Variations in Building Energy Consumption

New data from New York City underscores the need to prioritize when it comes to picking green building projects. 

The city’s first analysis of energy consumption data collected under a 2009 ordinance shows dramatic variations when it comes to energy performance — with some larger buildings performing three to five times better (or worse) than others in their category.

While New York buildings generally consume less energy and water than the national average, dramatic savings of 18% could be realized by addressing the poorest performers, according to the data released in early August. That, in turn, could result in a citywide reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of 20 percent, the data suggests.

And that’s if building managers do only the bare minimum to improve efficiency. If all the inefficient large buildings were brought up to the 75th percentile of performance for their category, the savings could reach 31% for energy and 33% for GRH emissions, the report suggests.

New York City requires individual buildings more than 50,000 square feet in size and multi-dwelling properties that have a combined footage of more than 100,000 square feet to measure and report their annual energy and water usage, and the new report is the first set of data to emerge. Nearly 1.8 billion square feet of built space is covered by the analysis.

The data will be used to guide the city’s future policies around green building and energy efficiency ordinances.

"This benchmarking report will help us understand where we can act most quickly to significant reduce GHG emissions and achieve our PlaNYC goals," says New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

PlaNYC, the city’s overarching sustainability plan, contains specific activities and targets for Land, Water, Air, Energy and Transportation. New York has also invested in main supporting programs, such as training for facilities managers and buiding maintenance workers with its Green Supers initiative.

Almost 75% of the GHG emissions in New York City come from the energy consumption of buildings, more than double the US average. What’s more, almost half of those emissions come from just 2% of the city’s biggest properties.

Here are some other key findings from the benchmark analysis:

  • The performance of New York City buildings is in line with other Northeast averages. 
  • Newer office buildings tend to use more energy per square foot than older ones.
  • Smaller multifamily buildings tend to use more energy than larger ones.

New York adopted its green building plan three years ago, aiming to save consumers $700 million annually in energy costs, while creating 17,880 green building jobs and reducing New York City’s carbon footprint by nearly 5%. 

New York also has taken action at the state level to encourage energy-efficiency and green building retrofits. In mid-July 2012, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a new law that will allow tax exemptions for green building projects beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2013. The exemptions would cover increases in property value that were a result of green building projects and individual municipalities can choose whether or not to participate

For more on New York City’s green building benchmark report.

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Comments on “NYC Shows Dramatic Variations in Building Energy Consumption”

  1. Energy Geek

    The article should have mentioned the other key reasons for the variations:

    -Multi-tenant buildings, and the problems with collecting all of the energy data

    -Some buildings not reporting all of their steam, fuel oil, and propane usage.

    -Emissions data being overstated and based on outdated grid information.

    -The use of “source energy” in the Portfolio Manager, which uses incorrect multipliers for different forms of energy, making buildings that use more fuel oil look better than buildings that use electricity or steam or natural gas.

    -The report does not break out on-site / building emissions from on-site equipment and estimated “upstream” emissions from electricity, fuel oil, natural gas, steam, and propane production.


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