Seattle announces multiple wins in building energy efficiency

New website to track building energy use, energy efficiency improvements in City buildings, and new ENERGY STAR ranking

Today the City of Seattle announced three notable achievements that underscore the City’s progress and commitment to reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in Seattle’s largest buildings. Buildings account for 33% of Seattle’s greenhouse gas emissions and Seattle’s ongoing efforts in this area are critical to meeting our climate goal of becoming a carbon neutral city by 2050.

“During this time when our federal government is actively working to block meaningful climate action, staying focused on aggressively pursuing climate solutions is critical,” said Jessica Finn Coven, Director of the Seattle Office of Sustainability and Environment. “While we are fortunate to have a carbon neutral electric utility, the key to achieving our building energy climate goals will always be rooted in efficiency. Seattle has been a leader in building energy for years and we will continue to lay down a path for other cities to follow.”

The Office of Sustainability and Environment (OSE) released details on the energy use in 2016 of over 3,330 commercial and multifamily buildings, including 85 City-owned buildings in a new data visualization website. Collected as part of Seattle’s Energy Benchmarking Program, the information—including annual energy used per square foot, ENERGY STAR scores, and greenhouse gas emissions—is easily understandable and allows people to see how much energy a specific building uses (its “building performance”) as well as compare it to similar buildings. More detailed building performance data for both 2015 and 2016 is available for download through the City of Seattle’s Open Data portal.

Transparent, accessible data about individual buildings are key tools in driving greater awareness about how much energy buildings use which helps create long-term market demand for energy efficient buildings and protects tenant interests.

“Having this data available and accessible is a prime example of where the market is headed,” said Cliff Majersik, Executive Director for the Institute for Market Transformation. “We know building performance, specifically energy efficiency, is becoming more important to prospective tenants and buyers. Seattle’s tool is especially compelling because it reports on greenhouse gas emissions, identifies potential savings opportunities, and allows users to drill down on a specific building, not just a building type.”

As part of the City’s Resource Conservation Program for municipal buildings, the City of Seattle is tracking and reporting energy use on all its buildings 10,000 sq.ft. or larger, as well as all public service facilities—community centers, libraries, fire stations, and police stations—regardless of size. A recent Seattle report shows energy use in City buildings decreased by 3.7% between 2015 and 2016 which brings the total energy reduction for City-owned buildings to 12% since 2008. This places the City on track to achieve its 20% energy reduction by 2020 goal. Seattle recently established a new target of an overall 40 percent energy and carbon emissions reduction by 2025.

“Given that most of the buildings that will shape Seattle in 2050 have already been built, improving the performance of our existing buildings is fundamentally important,” said Fred Podesta, Director of the Seattle Department of Finance and Administrative Services. “By improving as much of our municipal stock as possible, the City is realizing both significant environmental and economic benefits and setting a great example in the community.”

Seattle’s efforts in driving building energy efficiency show results in national rankings. Seattle climbed two spots over 2016 in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) list of U.S. metropolitan areas with the most ENERGY STAR certified buildings. In 2017, 164 Seattle area buildings, representing over 40 million sq. ft. earned the ENERGY STAR. This was a 22% increase over 2016, leading to a 38% increase in cost savings.

To qualify for the ENERGY STAR, a building must earn a 1 – 100 ENERGY STAR score of 75 or higher, indicating that it is more energy efficient than 75 percent of similar buildings nationwide. ­Is your building a Certified ENERGY STAR building? Visit  www.seattle.gov/energybenchmarkingmap and look for the ENERGY STAR logo on the building’s report view.

Data Visualizations Website Images for use:
Dashboard Snapshot
Building Pop-Up Snapshot
Energy Use Intensity (EUI) graph