Announcing the Energy Reduction Race, Year Two Benchmarking Results, and Better Buildings Challenge

Today, Mayor Michael Nutter made three major announcements related to the City of Philadelphia’s commitment to reducing citywide energy usage (which accounts for over 60% of greenhouse gas emissions in Philly):

1) The City is launching the Energy Reduction Race, a one-year challenge to Philadelphia’s largest commercial buildings to reduce their energy 5% by September 2015. To learn more about the Race, visit http://ow.ly/CK9e1.Logo

2) Results for the second year of Philadelphia’s citywide energy benchmarking program are now available on the City’s benchmarking site, http://www.phila.gov/benchmarking. Overall, Philadelphia’s buildings continue to outperform their peers nationwide, but there are still considerable opportunities for savings.

3) The City of Philadelphia, along with its partners at the Philadelphia Housing Authority and School District of Philadelphia, are excited to join the Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge, a ten-year commitment to reducing energy in municipally-owned & managed buildings 20% over the next ten years. Visit http://www4.eere.energy.gov/challenge/home for more details on the Better Buildings Challenge.

If you have questions about these announcements or are interested in learning more, please contact benchmarkinghelp@phila.gov.

Join Mayor Nutter for the Launch of the Energy Reduction Race!

Join Mayor Nutter for the announcement of the Philadelphia Energy Reduction Race, a one year-commitment to reduce energy usage in the city’s largest commercial buildings, next Tuesday at 1PM in City Hall Room 202.

To learn more about the Race, visit www.phillybuildingbenchmarking.com/competition. To RSVP for next Tuesday’s launch event, contact benchmarkinghelp@phila.gov.

Mayor Nutter Launches Mayors’ National Climate Action Agenda with Los Angeles and Houston

Mayor Michael A. Nutter announced the formation of the Mayors’ National Climate Action Agenda with Mayors Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles and Annise Parker of Houston during the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting in New York City. The launch of the Mayors’ National Climate Action Agenda comes on the first day of Climate Week, which is an international platform for government, business and civil society to work together on low carbon solutions to the climate change crisis.

“When I took office 7 years ago, climate change and how Philadelphia might begin to address it was very much on my mind. I created an Office of Sustainability and we produced Greenworks Philadelphia, a strategy to address our changing environment and to prepare us for a more sustainable future,” Mayor Nutter said. “Since then, we’ve made real progress on dozens of fronts, from waste diversion to improved air quality. Now, it’s time that cities across the nation come together and work toward a greener, more sustainable future that prepares all Americans to cope with the climate changes that are now impacting our world.”

While serving on President Obama’s Climate Preparedness and Resiliency Task Force, the Mayors of Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Houston each recognized the urgency to join together in not just calling for action but taking action on climate change. Mayors are uniquely equipped to lead the fight to stem climate change, to adapt to it and prepare for the impacts of global warming. Each of these three major cities, and many others, have dealt with extreme weather in recent years, including record droughts, flooding and storm surges.

By calling for national and international binding emission reductions agreements, establishing stronger inventory standards and reporting, committing to a set of local actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and growing the carbon offset market by removing barriers to municipal offset projects, the Mayors’ National Climate Action Agenda is intended to demonstrate that emission reduction projects are not only viable, but essential initiatives that must be embraced across the country. To ensure the Climate Action Agenda reaches as many cities as possible, Mayors Nutter, Garcetti and Parker will initiate a mayor-to-mayor, city-to-city outreach effort to bring mayors together over the coming year to develop a shared framework for local leadership and action.

Philadelphia is well-positioned to lead on climate through the commitments made in the City’s Greenworks sustainability plan, which emphasizes both climate mitigation and adaptation. Thanks, in part, to a commitment to energy reduction in Philadelphia’s building stock (the city’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions), citywide emissions have fallen 9% from the 2006 baseline.

Philadelphia is also in the process of developing climate adaptation strategies for the City’s assets and services. Vehicle miles travelled are also down 9% from 2005, and today, SEPTA was awarded $86.7 million to adapt the region’s transit network to a changing climate. Finally, the Philadelphia Water Department’s Green City, Clean Waters plan has been nationally recognized for its aggressive commitment to developing and expanding green infrastructure.

“The Obama administration has taken important actions to combat climate change, in the form of tightened coal-fired power plant emissions standards and vehicle fuel efficiency standards,” said Michael Mann, Professor of Meteorology, Penn State University. “But equally important are the efforts taking place at the local level. Most promising of all is the newly unveiled Mayors National Climate Change Action Agenda. This effort is led by mayors representing some of our largest cities including Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles, Mayor Annise Parker of Houston, and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. It is a bold plan that promises to help the U.S. meet our obligation to lower our carbon emissions and help stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations before they reach dangerous levels.”

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.