Study finds Philadelphia-area buildings in need of energy updates

November 14, 2011

Owners of Philadelphia-area commercial structures spend 29 percent more on energy than the national average, increasing the push for retrofits in the city to help create more energy efficient buildings, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

A report was compiled by Econsult Corporation for the Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster for Energy-Efficient Buildings (GPIC), the federally funded organization that is headquartered at the Navy Yard in Philadelphia.

The GPIC's plan for energy efficient buildings is the culmination of more than 10 years of dedicated team effort, as more than 90 organizations have made commitments to the initiative. Key personnel will be located at the Navy Yard site and the effort will serve as a national center for research, education, policy and commercialization for the sector.

According to the Econsult Corp. study of the region's 9,058 middle to larger commercial and industrial buildings, roughly 77 percent were built prior to 1990 and could benefit from energy-efficiency improvements.

"Based on all this data analysis, we found that about 7,000 properties, or 300 million square feet of space, meet the requirements for consideration of an energy retrofit," Laurie Actman, deputy director for management and administration for the GPIC, told the news source. "That's a lot of potential activity moving forward."

The report showed that there was a significant market for retrofitting the older buildings in the region, as the owners of the commercial property paid $2.84 per square foot a year on energy, higher than the national average of $2.21 a square foot, according to the Inquirer.

Data like that collected from Econsult Corp. has led many leaders in the area to focus on energy efficient building technology.

The U.S. Green Building Council has also identified this area as a place where energy efficient buildings could impact the economy and help reduce emissions. The organization selected Philadelphia as the host for its 12th annual conference, according to a separate Inquirer article.

According to the news source, there is significant work to be done in Philadelphia and the surrounding area concerning retrofitting buildings, but the potential exists for the city to be a leader in the field.

"It's a chance to change Philadelphia's story… to move away from a kind of Rocky and cheesesteaks to what our sustainability story is," Heather Shayne Blakeslee, the deputy executive director for the Delaware Valley Green Building Council, a partner in GPIC, told the Inquirer.