The City Council of Salt Lake City voted to improve air quality and energy efficiency by passing the Energy Benchmarking and Transparency ordinance—which was proposed by Mayor Jackie Biskupski—on August 29, 2017. This policy requires commercial and municipal buildings more than 25,000 square feet to measure their energy use on an annual basis, share that information with the City, and conduct an energy tune-up evaluation every five years. Buildings with ENERGY STAR scores over 50 will be noted publicly.
NEMA recently conducted a survey of buildings subject to a similar benchmarking policy and found that 84% of facility managers who benchmarked their facilities’ energy use made a low- or no-cost operational change to improve their buildings’ performance, while 82% invested in new equipment to improve their buildings’ energy performance. The most common investments included lighting and lighting controls, heating and cooling upgrades, and energy management systems.
Others have also noted the benefits of benchmarking, transparency, and periodic tune-ups.
The U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognize that the average commercial building wastes approximately 30 percent of the energy it consumes, and the key to determining how that waste is occurring is to benchmark the building by tracking energy performance year over year. Making that information transparent to the public signals to the market which buildings are taking energy efficiency seriously.
Benchmarking policies have become a best practice for cities looking to reduce energy waste, with Salt Lake City being the 25th city in the country to adopt a benchmarking requirement. Year over year, cities with benchmarking policies have seen up to three percent reductions in the energy use in covered buildings.
In April 2016, the American Lung Association ranked the Salt Lake City-Provo-Orem area as having the 6th worst short-term particle air pollution among 186 monitored metropolitan areas. The energy buildings use to run is a notable source of pollution, and improving the efficiency of the building stock will have positive benefits for the local air quality.
Salt Lake City also has ambitious goals when it comes to sustainability and the associated economic development. On July 12, 2016, the Salt Lake City Council and Mayor Biskupski formally adopted a Joint Resolution to transition the Salt Lake City community to 100 percent renewable electricity sources by 2032, to reduce 80 percent of Salt Lake City’s carbon emissions by 2040. Energy efficiency is a key cost-effective strategy to help meet this goal, as the less energy the city uses, the less renewable energy must be procured.
NEMA congratulates Salt Lake City on its new policy, and looks forward to working with the City as a resource for information on energy-efficient and connected electrical products and systems. Find out more about NEMA’s work on high-performance buildings at www.nema.org/hpb.