Fess up: Seattle Wants to Know What Buildings Waste Energy

Source: Stephanie Schendel, Crosscut, October 05, 2011.

A new city ordinance requires managers of some 9,000 buildings to report their annual energy consumption to the city.

While more than 25 percent of Seattle’s total greenhouse-gas emissions come from buildings, few property managers know how much energy their individual buildings consume.

“They all know the mileage of their car,” said Jayson Antonoff, sustainable infrastructure and green building policy advisor for the Seattle Department of Planning and Development. “But not the energy use of their building.”

Without tracking energy use, managers also don’t know how efficient their buildings are. Because many of the buildings are not as energy efficient as they could be, much of the energy paid for by property owners, building managers and tenants goes to waste.

That could change. A new Seattle ordinance now requires managers of buildings larger than 10,000 square feet — a total of about 9,000 buildings — to report and disclose their annual energy consumption to the city.

“You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” Senior Policy Associate for the NW Energy Coalition Kim Drury said. “Feedback is critical in energy management.” The coalition is focused on development of renewable energy and energy conservation. Drury was one of 50 people, including property managers, tenants, city officials and energy conservation activists, who worked in developing this policy as a way to achieve the overall goal of the Green Building Capital Initiative, which was to reduce energy consumption in Seattle’s existing buildings by 20 percent.

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