Changing Planet

New York City releases landmark benchmarking report

On August 3, 2012, C40 Chair, New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg released a landmark benchmarking report analyzing energy and water use in the city’s largest buildings. The report is the first and largest study of citywide building energy data in the U.S., encompassing 1.7 billion square feet of built space — equivalent to the built areas of Boston and San Francisco combined. Benchmarking submissions were required under the 2009 Local Law 84, as part of New York’s Greener, Greater Buildings Plan (GGBP).

Energy consumption in buildings is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions in many cities around the world. The impact of building energy use is magnified in cities because of the increased building density. “Buildings account for 75 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in New York City, yet many property owners and managers do not know they can be a part of the solution and save money by making their buildings more energy efficient,” said Mayor Bloomberg in announcing the report. “This benchmarking report will help us understand where we can act most quickly to significantly reduce GHG emissions and achieve our PlaNYC goals.”

Analytical contributions to the report from experts at New York University and the University of Pennsylvania include major findings such as: inefficient buildings consume three to five times as much energy as their efficient counterparts; and multifamily buildings make up the largest portion of square feet covered by the law, and are also responsible for the largest portion of GHG emissions.

On average, New York City buildings are performing better than large buildings nationally, according to a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ENERGY STAR scoring system. However, there are still significant opportunities to improve local building energy efficiency by as much as 18 to 31 percent through cost-effective operations and maintenance measures; these would translate to citywide GHG emissions reductions of up to 15 percent.

With these findings and more, New York hopes to raise public awareness about the numerous opportunities for energy savings, lower costs, and job creation by tackling building energy consumption. The report also includes several policy recommendations to enhance the city’s efforts to improve the benchmarking process and data accuracy. As such, the Mayor’s office will continue to work with the New York City Council, EPA, U.S. Department of Energy, private utilities, state regulators, technology companies, local stakeholders, and others to facilitate the benchmarking process.

With 75 percent compliance in the first year, the benchmarking requirement has achieved significant success; and the city will drive higher participation in the coming years through strategic outreach efforts. For its part, the Greener, Greater Buildings Plan is an integral strategy within PlaNYC, New York City’s citywide sustainability plan, and will help the City to reach the PlaNYC goal of 30 percent emissions reductions from the2005 baseline by 2030.

For more information, read the press release.

To download the report, click here.

The C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40) is a network of large and engaged cities from around the world committed to implementing meaningful and sustainable climate-related actions locally that will help address climate change globally. Recognizing that cities consume over two-thirds of the world’s energy and account for more than 70% of global CO2 emissions, our organization’s global field staff works with city governments, supported by our technical experts across a range of program areas to reduce carbon emissions and increase energy efficiency in large cities across the world. The current chair of the C40 is Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes, and 108th Mayor of New York City Michael R. Bloomberg is President of the Board. The Steering Committee includes: Berlin, Buenos Aires, Copenhagen, Hong Kong, Houston, Jakarta, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Rio de Janeiro, Seoul and Tokyo.

About the Blog

Researchers, conservationists, and others share stories, insights and ideas about Our Changing Planet, Wildlife & Wild Spaces, and The Human Journey. More than 50,000 comments have been added to 10,000 posts. Explore the list alongside to dive deeper into some of the most popular categories of the National Geographic Society’s conversation platform Voices.

Opinions are those of the blogger and/or the blogger’s organization, and not necessarily those of the National Geographic Society. Posters of blogs and comments are required to observe National Geographic’s community rules and other terms of service.

Voices director: David Braun (dbraun@ngs.org)

Social Media