Launching a New Era of Transparency

September 10, 2012 | Donna Hope

New York City is ushering in a new era of transparency about energy use in buildings. One month ago, the Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability (OLTPS) made history by publishing the first benchmarking report, analyzing energy and water data from the largest properties across the city’s five boroughs.

The day after Labor Day, New York City was proud to have achieved another landmark: the first public benchmarking data disclosure for commercial properties. This disclosure included energy use intensity (EUI), ENERGY STAR rating, greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), and water usage. In the words of the OLTPS Deputy Director of Energy, this type of disclosure will ultimately help transform our energy economy into a knowledge economy.    

Greener, Greater Buildings Plan

Local Law 84 (LL84) — Benchmarking is one of four legislative components of the Greener, Greater Buildings Plan, which affects NYC’s buildings over 50,000 square feet, and multiple buildings on the same lot with a combined footage of 100,000 square feet. At just 2 percent of the city's entire building stock, these 12,600 properties nonetheless comprise half the total area of the city and account for nearly half of the energy consumption and GHG emissions citywide. Their significant carbon footprint makes their improved energy efficiency a critical component of achieving the broader PlaNYC goal of ”30 by 30” — 30 percent citywide GHG reductions by 2030. 

National Significance

Local influence on building performance is clear from this benchmarking disclosure. New York City’s remarkable 75 percent compliance rate in the first year of LL84 implementation proves that the importance of benchmarking is recognized by local building owners. Equally impressive is the national and international influence that the LL84 mandate has had in inspiring the adoption of similar legislation. Seattle, Austin, San Francisco, Washington DC, and Philadelphia also have requirements for benchmarking, and other municipalities are quickly hopping onboard.

Although my tenure at OLTPS has been relatively short at just nine months, my involvement has been extensive — and intensive! It has been an honor to be part of transformative legislation that has impacted New York City and inspired the country. I look forward to what the next nine months will bring.

Donna Hope is an IMT policy analyst on detail to the New York City Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability.

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Donna Hope

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