A new report and infographic released by the Seattle Office of Sustainability and Environment on building energy use reveals that Seattle building owners are poised to save tens of millions of dollars on energy annually by improving their building’s energy efficiency. Seattle also recently released its Resource Conservation Management Plan, which sets guidelines for reducing energy use in City-owned buildings 20% by 2020.
“Seattle has the right experience, local talent and programs in place to make all our buildings more energy efficient,” said Sustainability and Environment Director Jill Simmons. “Improving building energy efficiency benefits the entire city by lowering energy costs, reducing carbon emissions and making Seattle an even more attractive place to live and work.”
The report, “Seattle 2011/2012 Building Energy Benchmarking Analysis” summarizes the benchmarking results of more than 2,600 private-sector buildings representing nearly 228 million sq. ft., including offices, hotels, apartment buildings, retail stores, religious and educational institutions and more. Building owners provided energy use information to the City as required under the City of Seattle’s Building Energy Benchmarking and Reporting Ordinance.
The analysis of the data found that:
Peer-to-peer comparisons help show where buildings stand
To help Seattle owners see how their building’s energy use stacks up to their peers, the analysis established performance ranges for 13 different building types based on their reported 2012 energy use. For example:
- An office building reporting an energy use intensity (EUI or energy use per square foot annually) of 60 kbtu/sf is about average for Seattle.
- Multifamily (apartment and condo) buildings, which tend to use less energy than offices, had an average EUI of about 32 kbtu/sf.
Seattle buildings have high energy and money savings potential
- If all the highest energy users improved to the average level of efficiency for their building type, owners would save a combined $55 million on utility bills each year and lower annual energy use by an average of 25% across all buildings.
- If these same buildings improved to match the energy efficiency levels of the best performing buildings in their class, utility bill savings would surpass $90 million each year and annual energy use would decline by an average of 42%.
Many Seattle buildings are more energy efficient than buildings nationally
Of the 890 buildings in Seattle that received U.S. EPA ENERGY STAR scores in 2012:
- The average score for all buildings was 68, meaning that overall, Seattle buildings performed 18% better than the national median.
- 41% had a score of 75 or greater, making them eligible to earn ENERGY STAR certification.
Seattle’s oldest buildings are not necessarily high energy users
- Office buildings constructed before 1950 and since 2000 used the least energy. Those built between 1960 and 1980 used the most energy.
With the publication of this report, Seattle building owners can see for the first time how energy use in their building stacks up against other buildings in the city and nation. The report will also help buyers, tenants and lenders see how the energy use of buildings they are considering buying, renting or financing compares to other buildings.
To date about 93% of buildings have had 2012 data reported to the City—the highest compliance rate in the nation for benchmarking laws. Seattle is one of nine U.S. cities with benchmarking ordinances.
"Thanks to the Seattle benchmarking program, we are now regularly tracking our energy use and finding new ways to save energy and money,” said Bob Anderson, CEO of Seattle’s Horizon House retirement community.
After benchmarking its buildings, Horizon House staff and residents went on to make energy-saving improvements to the complex, which have saved them $80,000 on utility bills over the last two years.