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District releases report card on energy and water consumption

Today, D.C. released data on energy and water consumption by the city's largest privately-owned buildings.

Large D.C. buildings subject to energy, water and space use reporting requirements
Large D.C. buildings subject to energy, water and space use reporting requirements
Doug Canter

The city obtained the data pursuant to a new “benchmarking” requirement that obligates large commercial and multi-tenant buildings to report energy use, water consumption and space use.

Benchmarking makes energy and water use transparent by public disclosure. It also encourages improved efficiency by providing comparisons against past performance, and, for most buildings, by providing comparisons against a national average.

D.C. is only the second city, in addition to New York, to publish building-by-building benchmarking data, a D.C. Department of Environment spokesperson said.

The data released today shows the efficiency of energy and water consumption by 490 of the city’s largest privately-owned buildings for the calendar years 2011 and 2012.

“This information will drive more investments in energy efficiency measures in the District and allow property owners and tenants to make informed decisions on their energy and water usage,” Keith A. Anderson, Director of the D.C. Department of the Environment, said in a prepared statement.

It is widely recognized that energy efficiency, particularly by industrial and commercial users, can lower energy costs significantly.

Ted Trabue, Managing Director of the D.C. Sustainable Energy Utility, the District’s energy efficiency provider under contract to the D.C. Department of Environment, said in today's statement, “We urgently need this data to identify and work with the District’s largest energy users to reduce our city-wide energy consumption.”

The city released a green building report in late January that shows D.C. commercial buildings on average operate more efficiently than buildings nationwide, based on a uniform efficiency rating of energy and water consumption by commercial buildings.

Buildings, and the energy they use, represent a large portion of the electricity consumed in cities. D.C. is no exception. About 75 percent of D.C.’s carbon emissions come from buildings, according to the D.C. Department of Environment’s Website.

D.C.’s benchmarking reporting obligation went into effect in January 2013 under a D.C. law enacted in 2008. Covered buildings were required to file reports in April 2013.

Full phase-in of the reporting requirement will occur this year, when buildings over 50,000 gross square feet – roughly equivalent in size to the White House without the West Wing – must submit reports.

About 1,450 buildings will be covered by the requirement this year.

D.C.’s benchmarking requirement is part of a national trend to use energy monitoring and reporting as a vehicle to encourage energy efficiency.