This article is 3 years old. It was published on February 16, 2017.
ST. LOUIS -- The City of St. Louis is home to some of the most architecturally-stunning buildings in the country, but many of these grandiose structures are also the greatest energy users.
To address that problem, Mayor Francis Slay has signed legislation making the City of St. Louis the latest U.S. city to require annual benchmarking and transparency.
The Building Energy Awareness bill, sponsored by 7th Ward Alderman Jack Coatar, applies to existing municipal, commercial, and residential buildings 50,000 square feet or larger. There are approximately 900 such buildings throughout the City. Participating buildings will be phased in, starting with municipally-owned buildings this year, and expanding to include large commercial and multifamily residential buildings in 2018.
"Benchmarking" helps raise awareness of how much energy and water a building is using. By examining a building's performance over time -- and in sharing this data with the City and utilities -- building owners can better understand how their properties use energy and track return on investment when it comes to reducing usage and cutting energy costs.
The goal of this tracking and information sharing by large-building owners is to encourage owners to implement energy-efficiency measures that will improve building performance, which also is a key component of the City's overall climate protection initiative.
"In order for the City of St. Louis to be a sustainability leader and meet citywide climate protection targets, our building owners must aggressively pursue energy efficiency," Mayor Slay said. "To ensure affordable financing is available for these projects, the City has developed an excellent tool to implement energy conservation measures: Set The PACE St. Louis. This new benchmarking ordinance will bring to light the information building owners need to make high-performance buildings in an economically-beneficial manner."
The City of St. Louis was recently selected as a recipient of a national grant focused on energy efficiency in large buildings. The technical support and funding from the City Energy Project will allow the City to have the support of a new technical energy advisor, who will be able to assist building owners with the benchmarking efforts, as well as connect building owners to tools to save energy and money. The contracted position will be housed in the City's Building Division. Applications will be accepted until March 24, 2017.
The City Energy Project, a joint initiative of the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Institute for Market Transformation, aims to enable $1.5 billion in annual energy savings nationwide by 2030. That translates to the equivalent of taking 1.4 million cars off the road.
"St. Louis is emerging as a leader in energy efficiency," said Christina Angelides, co-director of the City Energy Project at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). "The City has taken an important step to increase transparency and help drive energy efficiency activity in its largest buildings. By 2025, the ordinance is expected to save almost $8 million a year in energy costs for local businesses and residents, and reduce 15,000 cars-worth of greenhouse gas pollution."
Some building owners already have begun to realize the benefits of benchmarking. For example, Anthem -- a 9-story, 424,000 square-foot office building Downtown -- realized $350,000 in annual energy savings after adjusting operations and taking advantage of energy efficiency investments. Also Downtown, the Missouri Athletic Club used the results of benchmarking to seek retrofits to its building, resulting in operational savings of $362,000 a year.
"By targeting large existing commercial buildings to benchmark their energy usage, we anticipate a win-win outcome, as buildings that implement energy efficiency measures will save on their utility costs, reduce GHG emissions, and likely create green jobs in the process," Catherine Werner, Sustainability Director, said. "According to the City's 2015 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory, approximately 77 percent of citywide greenhouse gas emissions are from existing buildings. The vast majority of those are commercial buildings in the private sector."
"Buildings remain the largest energy users in America, and a significant amount of that energy is wasted by inefficient operations, said Julie Hughes, co-director of the City Energy Project and Building Performance Policy Director of the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT). "The St. Louis benchmarking ordinance will bring transparency to the marketplace and give building owners, tenants, and investors the actionable information they need to cut waste and save money."
"This city knows that tackling climate pollution from its largest source not only means public health and environmental benefits, but economic benefits as well. The St. Louis benchmarking legislation will help building owners reduce their operational costs and combat health-harming pollution, all while contributing to the City's economy," said Emily Andrews, Executive Director of the U.S. Green Building Council -- Missouri Gateway Chapter, who will assist the City with implementing the City Energy Project award and benchmarking ordinance.
Building owners will have more than a year to comply with the benchmarking reporting requirements.
About the City Energy
The City Energy Project is a national initiative from the Institute for Market Transformation and the Natural Resources Defense Council to create healthier and more prosperous American cities by improving the energy efficiency of buildings. Working in partnership, the Project and the 20 participating cities will support innovative and practical solutions that boost local economies, reduce pollution, and create healthier environments. The project is funded by a partnership of Bloomberg Philanthropies, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and the Kresge Foundation. For more information, visit cityenergyproject.org.
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