NYC Apartment Dwellers Can Compare Energy, Water Use Online

This is the second year NYC has required buildings to report on their energy and water consumption and the first year large apartment buildings have had to do so.

The law covers the biggest buildings – 24,000 that are over 50,000 square feet.

That means one million New Yorkers who live in large apartment buildings can, for the first time, go online and see how much energy and water their building uses per square foot and how that compares to similar buildings in NYC. They’ll be able to do this every year going forward. 

NYC is the first to publicly disclose energy consumption of  multifamily buildings – Chicago and Washington, DC will require it within a few years. 

"The same way we all look at nutrition labels at the grocery store and compare MPG stickers when buying a car, millions of apartment dwellers in New York now have transparent information about buildings’ energy use," says Cliff Majersik, Executive Director of the Institute for Market Transformation.

The data shows that NYC’s apartment buildings use about the same amount of energy as the national median and that a small percentage of buildings are the biggest energy hogs. 

Interestingly, buildings built in the 1970s use the most energy.

Similarly, the data for all large NYC buildings shows that  just 2% of them are responsible for more than half the city’s greenhouse gas emissions!

That’s especially important in NYC, where 74% of its emissions are from energy used in buildings. NYC’s goal is to cut emissions 30% by 2030 (from 2005 levels).

Because NYC is so big, this second annual report provides the largest-ever collection of benchmarking data for a single US jurisdiction, more than the seven other cities that now track this information combined: Austin, Boston, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, DC).

Highlights from this year’s report: 

  • Although NYC’s buildings are about the same as others in the Northeast on efficiency, they are more efficient than the national average. 

    The reason could be that buildings in this part of the country tend to be older and therefore more solidly built. Older buildings have been shown to be even more efficient that new LEED-certified ones.

  • Retail businesses range greatly in energy use, with the most energy intensive ones using five times the energy per square foot. Large apartment buildings, on the other hand, didn’t vary much in energy use between the most and least intensive users.

    Findings like these show the data can be used to pinpoint where efficiency efforts will pay off the most.

  • NYC raised its median ENERGY STAR score from 64 to 67 in the past two years – the benchmark used to compare  jurisdictions across the country. 

    It will be interesting to see if this trend holds and how it’s impacted by NYC’s Greener, Greater Buildings Plan, which kicks in over the next few years.

NYC building energy consumption data is here:

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