Energy Benchmarking of San Francisco Municipal Buildings

By Jonathan Cherry and Dan Heffernan

Jonathan and Dan both work at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission on the City’s clean energy programs. Jonathan is an architect and urban planner with experience in the sustainable design of affordable housing, public spaces, and other community projects. Dan works in the Energy Data Systems group, with several years’ experience in the power and renewables industry, and a Master’s in Wildlife Biology.

Civic Innovation Spotlight
Meeting of the Minds is working with the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation (MOCI) to bring you the Civic Innovation Spotlight, a monthly feature that shares the stories of cutting-edge and innovative civic projects in San Francisco. This series shares the untold stories of government innovation and inspiration related to accessibility, education, health, energy, and public services in San Francisco. For more articles in the Civic Innovation Spotlight, click here.

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is the municipal water, power and sewer services provider for the City and County of San Francisco. We generate and deliver power to hundreds of municipal buildings in San Francisco, including libraries, schools, fire stations, recreation centers, and office buildings. While this power is 100% greenhouse gas-free, the City’s large facility inventory brings with it a responsibility to use this energy as efficiently as possible. San Francisco has invested for many years in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in these public buildings, and the City is saving over $5 million each year in energy costs as a result.

San Francisco workers on roof

The SFPUC’s Energy Benchmarking project takes our efficiency programs a step further by providing data to the public that shows the year over year improvement in the City’s public building performance, identifying high performing locations as well as those that could benefit from further energy investments. We asked:

  • Where are San Francisco’s energy efficiency and green building successes?
  • Where are the locations where we can improve further?
  • And how can we get this information in the hands of the people across the city that can use it to take action?


To help answer these questions, the SFPUC has worked collaboratively with 25 other partner agencies to collect, analyze, and publicly release data that details the energy performance of nearly 500 facilities, including almost 49 million square feet of building area. The Energy Benchmarking Report tracks the energy intensity of these buildings and provides a visual record of how the City uses energy and how each location compares to its peers. As the first city on the west coast to collect this type of data and release it publicly, San Francisco is providing transparency about its operations: in order to improve we first need to know how we are already performing.

In October 2014, the third annual report and public dataset was released, revealing that the energy intensity (energy use per square foot) of these hundreds of facilities improved 7.4% over the past five years, while the average carbon footprint of these buildings decreased 12.7% over the same time period. For buildings where an EPA ENERGY STAR score could be calculated, 80% of San Francisco’s public buildings performed better than the national average (even controlling for our relatively mild climate). The data shows that it is not just the newest buildings that are the best performers, either; recent energy efficiency improvements at City Hall, built in 1915, have contributed to its achieving a top ENERGY STAR score along with a Platinum LEED rating in the existing buildings category from the US Green Building Council.

To see the full details on the City’s own energy performance and where we can continue to improve, check out our website. We offer a range of clean energy programs including detailed energy audits and green building design assistance to help our customers find ways to save energy and money. Or maybe you want to jump right into the data from the 2013 Energy Benchmarking Report? That’s alright, too!

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is a department of the City and County of San Francisco that provides retail drinking water and wastewater services to San Francisco, wholesale water to three Bay Area counties, and green hydroelectric and solar power to San Francisco's municipal departments and other retail customers.

Discussion

Leave your comment below, or reply to others.

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Read more from the Meeting of the Minds Blog

Spotlighting innovations in urban sustainability and connected technology

3 Lessons from Chula Vista to Help Clarify A Smart City Vision

Collaboration extends beyond City Hall. Unlike a city like New York, where most government functions are under the purview of the municipal government, a city the size of Chula Vista (population 268,000) or smaller has to collaborate with regional partners, such as school districts, hospital districts, water districts, the port district, and neighboring cities. By keeping dialogue open and working together on major projects we’ve opened up new opportunities for economic development, smart cities pilot initiatives and education.

Autonomous London

AVs can move more people in fewer vehicles on less congested streets compared to private cars. This means that some London streets could be made narrower and spare street space can be reallocated for other uses including bus lanes, cycling lanes, or expanded pavements. Street space can also be released for vegetation, allowing for cleaner streets and better storm water management.

California’s 2018 Climate Action Breakthrough

The 40-million people of California are not only growing the world’s fifth largest economy, they are accelerating the transition to use 100 percent renewables in less than 30 years. Recent success, shows that reaching 60 percent renewables for energy will be achieved and an enormous win for slowing global warming, improving health, efficient economy. Beyond 60 percent, there are several paths to carbon neutrality.

Share This