In the fight against climate change, cities are leading the charge.
Recognizing that buildings are one of the biggest culprits when it comes to the emissions of greenhouse gases, the city of Denver recently adopted new energy efficiency benchmarking requirements for commercial and some residential buildings.
In December, the city council adopted the “Energize Denver” program. It implements new benchmarking requirements for commercial and multifamily buildings. Beginning in 2017, those buildings over 25,000 square feet will be required to track and report their Energy Star score. In 2018, buildings over 50,000 square feet will be required to do the same.
The Energy Star program was developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to improve energy efficiency. It utilizes benchmarking as a means to incentivize energy efficiency improvements through competition. By giving building owners and managers a “score,” they can measure their building’s energy efficiency against its own historical usage or against the performance of other buildings.
In the Denver program, building scores will be made available to the public on an annual basis.
According to the Denver Department of Environmental Health, energy use from heating and cooling in buildings is the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, making up approximately 57 percent of Denver’s carbon emissions. The city estimates that the benchmarking program will lead to annual energy savings between 2 and 3 percent.
Energize Denver is one tool the city will use to achieve its 2020 Sustainability and Climate Action Plan goals. Those goals call for a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels by the year 2020 and by 80 percent by the year 2050.