NYC Benchmarks Buildings, Finds Room for Improvement
by Erin Weaver
By Erin WeaverNew York City has released its first report on the energy efficiency of its public buildings. Since 2009, the “Greener Greater Buildings Plan” has measured the energy performance of 2,730 City buildings and compared it to that of similar structures. The “NYC Benchmarking Report” indicates which buildings would benefit most from energy-saving retrofit projects. The City’s libraries already perform 22% more efficiently than the national average, while City offices and public schools rank just a few percentage points above average, and fire and police stations score well below average for buildings of their type. The City has completed 130 retrofit projects, with another 102 under way. When benchmarking began, heating oil use was not metered at many of the City’s buildings, which could raise doubts about the accuracy of the findings. However, says Melissa Wright-Ellis at the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS), “We at DCAS do coordinate the delivery of that fuel, so we have delivery data [and] entered that in where we have it. I would guess probably 35%–40% [of buildings] had to use that proxy method.” Applying the benchmarking information to everyday building maintenance is expected to reduce the City’s energy use by up to 15%, avoiding the release of 185,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases and saving taxpayers at least $51 million annually. New York is among a handful of cities and states that require energy benchmarking of buildings.