Philadelphia considers tracking energy use of large buildings

Are Philadelphia businesses spending more on energy than necessary?

City Council is looking to gather data on energy and water use in commercial buildings to help answer that question.


A proposed bill would mandate buildings larger than 50,000 square feet have their energy use tracked and made available to potential tenants.

Making buildings more energy efficient helps everyone, says Elizabeth Murphy of PECO.

“Building energy-efficiency programs represent one of our best opportunities to achieve cost-effective reductions in emissions and efficiency improvements,” she said.

But Doug Hoffman of the Building Owners and Managers Association is worried. Hoffman, who says the energy use of a building can vary depending on the tenant, said a manufacturer would probably use more than a high-tech firm.

“These things are sometimes outside the owner’s control,” he said. “These can be the same tenants that cause the low score. Under such circumstances, the values can be negatively impacted, which can, in turn, negatively impact the city’s tax base.”

Paul Spiegel, an energy consultant, says the comparison is necessary.

“I can liken it to something like a cholesterol test … you can get a cholesterol test that says your cholesterol is 210 but it doesn’t mean anything unless you are benchmarking it against some standard,” Spiegel said.

Most of Philadelphia’s commercial space is more than 30 years old, and proponents of the benchmarking bill say it will encourage mechanical upgrades to increase efficiency.

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