While New York City buildings are responsible for 74 percent of citywide greenhouse gas emissions, 94 percent of total electricity use, and 85 percent of potable water consumption in the city, these buildings are making progress on reducing their energy use, according to new data released by the office of Mayor Michael Bloomberg this week in the New York City Local Law 84 Benchmarking Report. Local Law 84 (LL84) requires all privately owned properties over 50,000 square feet and multiple buildings with a combined gross floor areas of more than 100,000 square feet to annual measure and report their energy and water use data to the city.

The report shows that individual market sectors have unique energy and water needs, and collecting data such as this is just the beginning of a longer-term shift to resource consumption not only being reduced but also helping to drive the market itself.

The city’s 2012 data, which represents more than 24,000 buildings and for the first time includes 9,000 multifamily properties, shows reductions in energy use in the past 10 months and, when combined with 2011 data released last fall, provides the first year-to-year analysis of such data. It is the largest collection of benchmarking metrics gathered for a single jurisdiction in the U.S. The goal of publicizing such a collection is to encourage widespread understanding of challenges and potential improvements in resource consumption, as well as to better encourage building users to respond to their buildings’ use.  “By tracking and disclosing this information on building energy performance, we can better understand the problem and how to fix it. This can help reduce climate change pollution and lower buildings’ energy bills,” writes Melissa Wright, associate director of the City Energy Project, on the Natural Resources Defense Council’s blog Switchboard. When data is publicized, users can react, Wright says, noting that the awareness created by the data “can help building tenants, operators, and businesses uncover major energy savings while unlocking market-driven demand for energy-efficiency products and local skilled workers.” As an example, she says that “just as we read nutrition labels or compare MPG when buying a car, New Yorkers now have transparent information about their apartment buildings’ energy use.”

Key findings include:

  • Energy Star scores are increasing. While the national average Energy Star score for eligible buildings is 50, the median score for New York City’s eligible buildings rose from 64 to 67.
  • Market sectors continue to vary in energy consumption. As in 2011, retail uses again showed the widest range of energy utilization intensities (EUIs), with the highest users consuming five times more than the lowest users on a per area basis. Multifamily, meanwhile, showed the more narrow variation between the most and least intensive users. The median EUI for multifamily buildings is 132.1, close to the national median of 130, reports Cliff Majersik, executive director of the Institute for Market Transformation. (Click here for a more in-depth look at the report’s multifamily data on IMT’s blog.)
  • Multifamily properties are the most water intensive users. Multifamily properties showed the highest rate of water consumption on a square foot basis according to data collected via automatic reporting devices from the local water utility.

Based on the report’s findings, the city is recommending three action items: improve enforcement of LL84; expand Energy Star scoring to reflect building diversity; and implement automatic energy use data uploading from utilities.
Click here to download an Excel file of the City’s energy and water data disclosed under Local Law 84.