The City of Houston is taking a multifaceted and data-based approach to ensure efficiencyiii, cost-effectiveness and sustainability of its buildings, which make up 40% of the city administration’s total energy use. The city’s goal is to achieve 20% energy savings in municipal buildings by 2020. The city has conducted data collection and benchmarking of city facilities and publishes energy performance data for every municipal building over 25,000 square feet. 


The data covers 62 city-owned buildings representing more than 5 million square feet of space. Analysing this energy-use information allows the city to identify operational and 
management improvements to increase energy efficiency, save money, and contribute to government transparency. Benchmarking enables a comparison of building performance over time, which in turn helps prioritize the facilities with the highest energy intensity and motivates appropriate action if building performance diminishes. Through benchmarking and subsequent retrofits, the city plans to achieve ENERGY STAR® certification and maintain the standard through continuous data monitoring. The energy consumption data was collected using the U.S. EPA ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager software tool.iv The most recent (2013) site energy use intensity data for each building is available to the public online at:

Reasons for success

The success of Houston’s benchmarking approach is based on early recognition of the need to benchmark and monitor the whole portfolio of large municipal buildings, in order to be able to prioritise energy retrofits and/or bundle eligible projects together. In addition, making the energy performance data available to the public was recognised as key contributor to greater transparency and government accountability and important step to help motivate action among private building owners by demonstrating the success of the approach.

C40 Good Practice Guides

C40's Good Practice Guides offer mayors and urban policymakers roadmaps for tackling climate change, reducing climate risk and encouraging sustainable urban development. With 100 case studies taken from cities of every size, geography and stage of development around the world, the Good Practice Guides provide tangible examples of climate solutions that other cities can learn from. 

The Municipal Building Efficiency Good Practice Guide is available for download here. The full collection of C40 Good Practice Guides is available for download here.  

All references can be found in the full guide.

  • Economic
  • Environmental
Key Impact
The system identifies operational and management improvements to increase energy efficiency, save money, and contribute to government transparency
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