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Benchmarking Buildings for Energy Efficiency

Knowledge may be power, but Seattle leaders are hoping that, at least for buildings, knowledge is less power.

Under a new city ordinance that takes effect this month, all buildings over 10,000 square feet--both commercial and multifamily residential--must report their annual energy usage to the city.

The goal is to create a baseline for energy efficiency investment decisions as well as to inform buyers and tenants of building energy costs.  The information may also be used to develop future city incentives.  

“You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” said the NW Energy Coalition’s Kim Drury in a Crosscut interview.

Seattle estimates more than 25 percent of its greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings, a remarkable statistic in a region largely powered by hydroelectricity.

The new law is part of the city’s Green Building Capital Initiative, which aims to reduce energy usage in buildings.

Coupled with other efforts like the Seattle 2030 District and the grant-winning Building Efficiency Testing and Integration (BETI) Center and Demonstration Center, the Puget Sound region seems at the center of taking action on the fact that the cheapest source of new energy is conservation.