Philadelphia moves forward with energy efficient buildings push

June 21, 2012

Cities around the U.S. are looking to more green and sustainable practices as both a cost-cutting and environment-saving measure, with buildings becoming one of the main focuses for these municipal governments.

Philadelphia is looking to energy efficient buildings as a way to lower its overall consumption levels, as greening both commercial and residential structures will go a long way toward reducing emissions and waste in properties scattered around the city.

The historic city is home to an innovation Hub for energy efficient buildings, as the U.S. Department of Energy designated a site to promote the sector in the region.

The Energy Efficient Buildings Hub, located in the Philadelphia Navy Yard, is a consortium of institutions from academia, government, the private sector and the energy development industry that is working together to transform the commercial real estate market in the city, which will serve as a national model for retrofitting and renovating properties.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the city is also looking to enact legislation to help expedite the process.

According to the newspaper, the Philadelphia City Council recently unanimously approved an ordinance that will require owners of large commercial buildings to report their energy consumption to the local government in a new system. This would help create a benchmarking measure to increase efficiency and spur conservation.

This new rule was sponsored by Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown and requires owners of buildings larger than 50,000 square feet to submit their properties for scoring based on the Energy Star ranking developed by the Environmental Protection Agency.

According to the Inquirer, advocates of the new system hope that the public rankings will influence building owners and tenants to adopt a retrofit or change practices. Comparative energy efficiency data may also help companies ask their landlords for a switch.

The new rule will go into effect on June 1, 2013.

This type of aggressive approach to adopting more efficient buildings and technology has been outlined by Pike Research as a way to expedite the transition to more sustainable structures across the world.

According to a report from the company, government leaders can help with incentives for adopting new practices, allowing businesses to perform retrofits and renovations with less capital up front.

"Technology advances and government policy are causing sweeping changes across the building industry worldwide," says senior analyst Eric Bloom.