Commercial buildings are responsible for nearly a quarter of Portland's carbon emissions and spend more than $335 million on energy every year.
On Earth Day, Portland City Council voted unanimously to approve a new policy that will require owners of commercial buildings over 20,000 square feet to track energy use and report it on an annual basis. The policy will cover nearly 80 percent of the commercial square footage and affect approximately 1,000 buildings.
“Portland has set a goal to cut carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050. To reach that goal, we all have a role to play — public and private, at work and at home,” said Portland Mayor Charlie Hales. “Reducing energy use in buildings is a critical part of that picture. Tracking energy use and investing in energy efficiency saves money for the building owners. And for the city as a whole. Last year alone, the city saved $6 million on its own energy bills.”
The policy will cover offices, retail spaces, grocery stores, hotels, health care and higher education buildings. It does not include residential properties, nursing homes, and places of worship, parking structures, K-12 schools, industrial facilities or warehouses.
“Today, my clients, tenant customers and staff expect energy efficiency,” said David Genrich, general manager, JLL, a professional services and investment management company specializing in real estate. “Tracking energy use has become a core responsibility of good building managers, and this policy ensures consistency across the board.”
The new Energy Performance Reporting Policy will require commercial buildings to track performance with a free online tool called ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager and report energy use information to the City of Portland on an annual basis. There are approximately 5,000 commercial buildings in Portland. Currently fewer than 100 buildings claim ENERGY STAR certification.
“The fact that the policy requires the use of the Energy Star Portfolio Manager in reporting makes a lot of sense. It’s widely used, it is well recognized, it has a lot of credibility, and the EPA makes a lot of training available for people to get familiar with the program,” said Renee Loveland, sustainability manager at Gerding Edlen, one of the nation’s leading real estate investment and development firms. “We’ve been using it over the past several years. All of the other markets we’re currently doing business in have mandatory reporting in place, and Portfolio Manager has been working well for our properties.”
Why are cities like Portland adopting energy performance reporting for commercial buildings?
- The energy used to power buildings is the largest source of carbon pollution in Portland.
- Similar to a MPG rating for a car, the energy performance policy allows potential tenants and owners to have access to important information about building energy performance.
- Commercial energy reporting policies in 12 other U.S. cities have proven to motivate investment in efficiency improvements that save money and reduce carbon emissions.
“This has been a great collaboration among City bureaus and community members, including dozens of building owners and managers,” said Bureau of Planning and Sustainability Director Susan Anderson. “This isn't new. It's tried and true — and already has been adopted in 12 other U.S. cities."
Visit www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/energyreporting to learn more and track program updates.