More U.S. cities launch benchmarking programs for energy efficient buildings

December 13, 2011

The increasingly urbanized world has led to a consolidation of people within city limits, as more individuals live in an urban metropolis than rural areas. This means more buildings to house this population and an increase in the concentrated energy usage for these structures.

Urbanization has led to commercial buildings in the U.S. accounting for 40 percent of the total energy consumption in the country. This number has motivated many cities across the nation to modify their policies and enact programs that would reduce this figure, according to Dowser.

The news source reported that many cities are trying to limit emissions by monitoring energy use. A new approach, known as benchmarking, counts on a combination of raising awareness, motivating people through comparative measures and fostering a sense of responsibility in building owners.

In New York City, benchmarking was piloted in August 2011, and it was launched in the city of Seattle in November. Other cities, including Austin, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., are currently launching programs, according to Dowser.

"Benchmarking creates awareness," Jayson Antonoff, Seattle’s Program Manager for the Benchmarking and Reporting initiative, told the news source. "We’re trying to get the framework in place so that the market can motivate building owners to improve energy performance."

While individual cities are launching their own benchmarking programs, some regions of the country are establishing themselves as leaders in the development and design of energy efficient buildings and technology.

The Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster for Energy Efficient Buildings (GPIC) is one of the innovation hubs that was designated by the U.S. Department of Energy as a leading effort for energy efficient buildings in the country.

Located at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, it will also look to become a regional leader and create jobs in the surrounding Greater Philadelphia region. The GPIC effort will use the area's substantial building stock to validate and deploy discoveries that are made at the innovation hub.

The GPIC also has access to a large and diversified labor force capable of promoting and adapting HUB discoveries. Though the region is known for having a strong manufacturing base, knowledge-based industries have become prominent and a significant portion of the workforce in the area is in these sectors.