Findings from Philadelphia’s Energy Benchmarking Outreach

Last month, Resources Media published an evaluation of the outreach and support work done by Seattle in support of its citywide energy benchmarking policy. Seattle’s Help Desk, staffed primarily by a non-profit partner of the city, provided timely and robust assistance to building owners and operators, helping Seattle achieve one of the highest benchmarking compliance rates in the country.

Philadelphia has taken a different approach to assisting building owners during the first two years of implementing benchmarking and disclosure. While both Seattle and Philadelphia’s programs achieved compliance rates of over 90% in 2014, the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability (MOS) has handled nearly all benchmarking assistance and outreach internally, providing a direct link between city policymakers and those most impacted by the new law.

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As a result, MOS now has two years of data on nearly 3,000 instances of contact between its staff and building owners and operators in the city (for a program that covers nearly 2,000 buildings). As shown in the chart below, users needed support most in the months prior to benchmarking deadlines (November 2013 and June 2014) and following the receipt of notices of violation for non-compliance (January and July 2014).

The chart also illustrates the extent to which MOS worked to make email the primary mode of communication with building owners. Overall, 71% of assistance was provided via email. This allowed MOS to better track the history of building owners’ issues with benchmarking, improving the quality of its support and reducing required staff time.

By managing assistance in-house, MOS was also able to communicate directly the benefits of energy benchmarking to building owners and operators. In many instances, staff were able to learn more about the hurdles facing these buildings when considering investment in energy-efficient projects and direct them to available incentive and loan programs.

If you have questions about Philadelphia’s benchmarking program, contact us at benchmarkinghelp@phila.gov.

City of Philadelphia Energy Office Is Hiring!

The City’s Energy Office is looking to hire two individuals who will support the City’s work on energy management, conservation and efficiency. This is an exciting opportunity to help the City reduce its energy use and contribute to the City’s sustainability goals.

Energy Engineer: http://www.phila.gov/green/pdfs/Energy%20Engineer.pdf

Energy Analyst: http://www.phila.gov/green/pdfs/Energy%20Analyst.pdf

Please submit a resume and cover letter to energy@phila.gov.

Greenworks 2014 Progress Report Released

We’re very proud to announce that the 2014 Greenworks Progress Report is now available on our website (www.phila.gov/green). The Progress Report outlines some of the tremendous successes the City of Philadelphia and its community, non-profit, and private partners have made in the five Greenworks goal areas (energy, environment, equity, economy, and engagement), as well as the challenges that remain. With the fifth year of Greenworks reporting, we are beginning to understand report on some of the long-term trends that are driving these goal areas, and that will help inform the continued support and advocacy of our stakeholders throughout Philadelphia.

You can read the report at http://www.phila.gov/green/PDFs/Greenworksprogressreport.pdf.

MOS on the Road: Events for the Week of June 16

As we prepare for the release of the 2014 Greenworks Progress Report and the June 30th energy benchmarking deadline, MOS will be participating in several events around the city:

Benchmarking office hours: Non-residential buildings over 50,000 square feet must report their 2013 energy and water usage by June 30, 2014. If you need assistance in completing this process, we’re here to help. Open office hours will be held in the One Parkway Building (1515 Arch Street) on the 18th Floor, Room 18-026 this Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. All office hours sessions run from 2PM to 5PM. Please RSVP at benchmarkinghelp@phila.gov.

Investing In Your Facility @ CBEI: The Consortium for Building Energy Innovation will be holding an event to discuss benchmarking and investment, including an update on CBEI’s work on building retuning, on Wednesday at 9AM. More information is available here or by contacting Kat Hinkel at keh211@engr.psu.edu.

Philly EcoCamp: A series of events promoting sustainability and environment through technology, EcoCamp will be hosting workshops on Friday, including a discussion on building energy data led by Alon Abramson at Penn Institute for Urban Research and MOS staffers Adam Agalloco and Rich Freeh. Learn more and register at www.phillyecocamp.org.

State of the City: An Urban Sustainability Forum: MOS is thrilled to be partnering with USF to release the 2014 Greenworks Progress Report Thursday evening at the Academy of Natural Sciences. This is a free event, but registration is requested.

Watching Waste at Philadelphia Events

The Waste Watchers Program had a strong finish at the Philly Cycling Classic on June 1st, topping off a busy spring season of waste diversion at Philadelphia events. Waste Watchers, a sustaWaste_LemonHillinability initiative created through a partnership among the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, the Mayor’s Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Service, the Office of the City Representative, and the Mayor’s Office of Reintegration Services, started at the Philadelphia Marathon in 2011 to divert waste away from landfills. Waste Watchers operated exclusively at the Marathon until this year when the City received a $50,000 grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies to expand the program to other major Philadelphia events.

The Waste Watchers team recruited over 250 volunteers to educate attendees at the Philadelphia Science Carnival, the Broad Street Run, and the Philly Cycling Classic on how to sort their waste into the proper compost, recycling, and trash receptacles. Waste Watchers did an incredible job diverting waste from landfills, with some even volunteering at two events in one weekend! Their efforts resulted in a 70% waste diversion rate average over the spring events.

Thank you to all of the volunteers who dedicated their time and energy towards waste diversion with admirable enthusiasm!

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Mayor Nutter’s Statement On The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan Proposal

Mayor Michael A. Nutter released the following statement on the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan, which proposes the first-ever carbon pollution standards for America’s power plants.  The proposed regulations call on power plants to cut carbon emissions to 30% below 2005 levels by 2030.  The statement reads as follows:

“I applaud President Obama and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for taking this important, common sense approach to reducing carbon pollution nationwide, mitigating harmful greenhouse gas emissions and, ultimately, moving toward a cleaner environment.

“The proposal presents states and utilities with flexible compliance options, which will allow states to create a plan that works best for them.  It is my hope that Pennsylvania will develop a strong, tailored approach to meet the new standards by utilizing energy efficiency and clean energy technologies.

“In Philadelphia, we work to integrate sustainability principles into the work of City government and are actively advancing climate change adaptation efforts to enhance our resiliency to the changing climate.  Through our Greenworks plan, we are taking the lead at the local level to demonstrate that healthy environments go hand-in-hand with thriving communities and economies.

“Over the past five years, Philadelphia has broken records tied to heat, cold, rain and snow.  And, the effects of this extreme weather has taken a toll on our infrastructure and negatively impacted public safety, public health and the City’s budget. This year alone, our Streets Department will have spent an additional $6.3 million in work fighting winter storms and repairing winter street damage.

“While cities are on the frontline responding to weather events and adapting to climate change, we need Federal action.  The leadership displayed by President Obama in establishing consistent standards and goals is absolutely essential to addressing climate change and carbon pollution.  Once again, I want to thank the President and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy for protecting the health of the public and the environment.”

Philadelphia Joins Open Building Performance Data Initiative

Today, U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced a series of initiatives aimed at using open and accessible data to ensure a “clean, secure, and reliable” energy future. As part of this announcement, the City of Philadelphia is pleased to commit to using the Department of Energy’s SEED platform to track and publish building energy data as part of Philadelphia’s municipal and citywide building benchmarking programs.

SEED is a web-based platform that will enable both the city and individual building owners to track their buildings’ energy performance over time. SEED is designed to integrate with ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, the EPA tool that has become the standard for energy benchmarking and disclosure policies nationwide.

To learn more about SEED and the other initiatives set forth by Secretary Moniz today, visit the White House blog. Information about Philadelphia’s benchmarking program can be found at www.phila.gov/benchmarking.