Energy Benchmarking of San Francisco Municipal Buildings
Who will you meet?
Cities are innovating, companies are pivoting, and start-ups are growing. Like you, every urban practitioner has a remarkable story of insight and challenge from the past year.
Meet these peers and discuss the future of cities in the new Meeting of the Minds Executive Cohort Program. Replace boring virtual summits with facilitated, online, small-group discussions where you can make real connections with extraordinary, like-minded people.
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.
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!
Leave your comment below, or reply to others.
Please note that this comment section is for thoughtful, on-topic discussions. Admin approval is required for all comments. Your comment may be edited if it contains grammatical errors. Low effort, self-promotional, or impolite comments will be deleted.
Read more from MeetingoftheMinds.org
Spotlighting innovations in urban sustainability and connected technology
People seem frequently to assume that the terms “sustainability” and “resilience” are synonyms, an impression reinforced by the frequent use of the term “climate resilience”, which seems to enmesh both concepts firmly. In fact, while they frequently overlap, and indeed with good policy and planning reinforce one another, they are not the same. This article picks them apart to understand where one ends and the other begins, and where the “sweet spot” lies in achieving mutual reinforcement to the benefit of disaster risk reduction (DRR).
As extreme weather conditions become the new normal—from floods in Baton Rouge and Venice to wildfires in California, we need to clean and save stormwater for future use while protecting communities from flooding and exposure to contaminated water. Changing how we manage stormwater has the potential to preserve access to water for future generations; prevent unnecessary illnesses, injuries, and damage to communities; and increase investments in green, climate-resilient infrastructure, with a focus on communities where these kinds of investments are most needed.
A few years ago, I worked with some ARISE-US members to carry out a survey of small businesses in post-Katrina New Orleans of disaster risk reduction (DRR) awareness. One theme stood out to me more than any other. The businesses that had lived through Katrina and survived well understood the need to be prepared and to have continuity plans. Those that were new since Katrina all tended to have the view that, to paraphrase, “well, government (city, state, federal…) will take care of things”.
While the experience after Katrina, of all disasters, should be enough to show anyone in the US that there are limits on what government can do, it does raise the question, of what could and should public and private sectors expect of one another?