Energy efficient building gains ground in Philadelphia

C40 city Philadelphia is adding to its growing reputation as a leader in urban sustainability, with plans to create a more energy efficient building stock well underway. The city recently passed legislation requiring large commercial buildings to benchmark and report energy and water usage data to the Office of Sustainability, which will then in turn share this information with the public.

According to Laurie Actman, deputy director for the Energy Efficient Building Hub who recently wrote this article for GreenBiz.com, “benchmarking is an important first step toward increasing awareness of the energy performance of a building and motivating energy efficiency improvements.”

Since he took office in 2008, Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter has steadily built up a network of public and private stakeholders interested in driving forward energy efficient building initiatives. Energy innovation is an important component of Greenworks Philadelphia — the Mayor’s sustainability plan now in its fourth year — which also targets the areas of environment, equity, economy, and engagement. Greenworks’ energy efficiency goals include reducing the city’s own energy consumption by 30 percent by 2015, and reducing energy consumption in all buildings within the city by 10 percent by 2015.

“Greenworks is and always was an expression of Philadelphians’ commitment to sustainability, and businesses, institutions, non-profits, and residents have proven their dedication to making Greenworks succeed. One of many examples is the energy efficiency work booming across all sectors of Philadelphia, from companies developing cutting-edge technologies, to builders prioritizing efficiency in new projects, to homeowners retrofitting their houses,” Mayor Nutter said in the 2012 Greenworks Progress Report.

Launched in February 2011, the EEB Hub has acted as a key partner in the passing and now implementation of energy benchmarking legislation. Creating a partnership with the city’s utilities, especially PECO (Pennsylvania’s largest electric and natural gas utility), was a critical step in fostering high compliance rates among building owners, according to Actman.