Putting Data to Work: How Cities are Using Building Energy Data to Drive Efficiency

Across the U.S., cities are implementing building performance reporting laws regarding building energy and water use in commercial and multifamily buildings. These programs generate large quantities of useful data on the energy consumption of a region’s buildings. However, the data is only valuable if it drives smarter business decisions and savings. Cities are leading the charge in turning this data into actionable information, accelerating investment in energy efficiency. 

But, how? Over three years, the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT), examined how, exactly, this data can and is being deployed to reap an array of benefits for cities, energy efficiency service providers, utilities, and building owners. IMT partnered with the District of Columbia Department of Energy & Environment (DOEE) and the New York City Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, as well as their respective partners, the District of Columbia Sustainable Energy Utility (DCSEU) and the NYC Energy Efficiency Corporation (NYCEEC), to examine their pioneering efforts.

The resulting toolkit and associated resources will enable other local governments, utilities, and program implementers to replicate DC’s and New York City’s success—engaging the private sector to maximize energy and greenhouse gas savings from their built environments.

This report is the master summary report of the Putting Data to Work initaitive. City government sustainability leaders can use this report to understand how cities use  the data collected through building energy ordinances. This report includes strategies for improving data quality; translating data into actionable information for the private sector; communicating information in a way that motivates action and drives retrofits; and incorporating data into local climate and energy planning.

The report is divided into sections that provide strategies for improving data quality, communicating the data’s availability and use, and aiding building owners in making energy-efficient decisions.

  • Communicating Benchmarking Data to Motivate Action details the various ways that cities publicize their benchmarking data, including public websites and visualization platforms, and how they direct building owner communication through energy scorecards.
     
  • Marketing and Outreach Strategies Using Benchmarking Data discusses various strategies for using benchmarking data in outreach to building owners, both through targeting building owners with the highest potential for energy savings and through continued engagement using data.
     
  • Other Applications of Benchmarking Data addresses additional uses for benchmarking data, including direct support of building decision makers, and use of benchmarking data in city energy and infrastructure planning.
     
  • Reducing Error in Benchmarking Datasets provides strategies for improving the quality of benchmarking datasets, including activities that cities can undertake during policy and program design, during the reporting period, and after data collection.
     
  • What’s Next? discusses how cities can continue to improve energy efficiency by building off their benchmarking efforts.

To access the full toolkit, as well as individual components, visit imt.org/PuttingDatatoWork.