WEDNESDAY, APRIL 15 — Mayor Charlie Hales today brought to Council a policy that would require commercial buildings, 20,000 square feet and larger, to track energy performance, calculate energy use, and report to the city. The goal is to reduce energy costs for building owners and carbon emissions for the city — among Mayor Hales' goals to keep Portland living up to its green reputation.
Reducing building energy use is the single biggest opportunity for carbon reductions in the entire county. But right now in Portland, of the city's 5,000 commercial buildings — which are spending $335 million annually on energy — only 81 are ENERGY STAR certified. In a broader context, fewer than 20 percent of commercial buildings in Portland are affected by the policy, yet the policy affects 80 percent of Portland's commercial square footage.
Buildings that track energy use save an average of 2.4 percent on energy costs per year. If all 1,000 buildings covered by the policy saved 2.4 percent, that effort would save them millions of dollars each year, and reduce the city's carbon emissions considerably. In Washington, D.C., a similar policy resulted in a 9 percent reduction in energy use over three years, 2010-13.
The policy would kick in April 2016 for largest commercial buildings, 50,000 and more square feet, and April 2017 for buildings 20,000 to 50,000 square feet. The state and Energy Trust of Oregon provide rebates and tax credits for energy efficient upgrades to lighting and HVAC systems, so "green" improvements shouldn't be cost-prohibitive. In response to building owner concerns, those affected by the policy will have a year to improve energy scores before they become readily available.
"The City is leading by example," Mayor Hales said, referring to the City's target of a 2-percent reduction in building energy use per year. "This policy puts our sustainable city in the ranks of others: Austin, Boston, Cambridge, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Seattle."
Council will vote on the proposed policy on Earth Day, April 22.
More from the Twitter Town Hall the mayor hosted to answer questions about the policy:
Ready to talk about a more sustainable city- specifically re: disclosing how much energy commercial buildings use? Tweet to #sustainablecity— Charlie Hales (@MayorPDX) April 15, 2015
Policy would require commercial buildings 20,000+ sq ft to track energy performance, calculate energy use, & report to city #SustainableCity— Charlie Hales (@MayorPDX) April 15, 2015
Goal is to reduce energy costs and carbon emissions, among my goals to keep Portland living up to its green reputation #SustainableCity— Charlie Hales (@MayorPDX) April 15, 2015
Competitiveness for a social good: 2014 Kilowatt Crackdown, buildings tracked energy, made no/low-cost improvements, saved $, redux carbon— Charlie Hales (@MayorPDX) April 15, 2015
Great piece of this policy is that the business community supports it. #BOMA will testify in support today at Council. Important buy-in.— Charlie Hales (@MayorPDX) April 15, 2015