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.

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