Citywide Building Benchmarking Legislation Approved by Pittsburgh City Council

On October 18, 2016, Pittsburgh’s City Council passed Building Benchmarking legislation (8-0, with 1 member absent). The legislation requires owners of nonresidential buildings over 50,000 square feet (or portions of mixed use buildings with at least 50,000 square feet of nonresidential space) to submit complete whole building energy and water usage to the city on an annual basis. Building owners will use the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager to track and share information.  Following Mayor Bill Peduto’s signature on October 21, 2016, Pittsburgh became the 17th city to adopt a legislated building benchmarking approach, following similar requirements in effect in many U.S cities, including Philadelphia, New York City, Austin, Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington D.C.

U.S. Building Benchmarking and Transparency Polices

In the works since 2014, this supplemental ordinance to Title VI involved consensus building between the City of Pittsburgh, Green Building Alliance, Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA), Allegheny Conference on Community Development, Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future (PennFuture), Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership (PDP), and Carnegie Mellon University — all in partnership with Duquesne Light, Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA), and the Institute for Market Transformation.

Annual building benchmarking information will be published online, allowing owners, tenants, prospective buyers or lessees, and the general public to view energy and water usage. This increased transparency allows businesses and individuals to make informed choices related to building specifications while also providing a method for tracking building efficiency and monitoring for maintenance needs.

The City of Pittsburgh will be the first to disclose its buildings’ performance, reporting information by June 1, 2017, for the 2016 performance year. Other eligible buildings will report on the 2017 performance year, with a deadline of June 1, 2018.

Pittsburgh’s building benchmarking legislation builds on several existing local efforts, including existing benchmarking practices in place at the City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, other City and County Authorities, and Pittsburgh Public Schools.  Additionally, with the Pittsburgh 2030 District already voluntarily benchmarking across 100 property partners in Downtown, Oakland, and the Northside, building energy and water benchmarking AND measured performance improvements are already linked, including an annual public report on progress towards the Pittsburgh 2030 District’s 50% reduction goals (below baselines). For the 2015 performance year, Pittsburgh 2030 District partners reported 12.5%, 10.3%, and 24.2% reductions in energy, water, and transportation emissions, respectively.

To help property owners and building manager citywide comply with the new legislation, Green Building Alliance will begin offering more dedicated and regular education about the use of Portfolio Manager. Property Partners committed to Pittsburgh 2030 District goals will also receive additional support, including assistance complying with building benchmarking legislation; monthly invitations to Partner Meetings where building owners or property managers share progress and best practices with their peers; and regular updates on important happenings in the city and the region, including legislation, funding opportunities, and upcoming events. Building owners or managers interested in participating in the Pittsburgh 2030 District should contact GBA for more information.

Want help getting started in Portfolio Manager? Check out these videos below:

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