Invariably, those in sustainable development acknowledge the greatest impact in reducing green house gasses (GHGs) will come from improvements to existing buildings. The new commercial building energy performance ordinance that we recently spent a great deal of time covering is an example of that focus.  That is not to say that intelligent new building codes are ineffective. It’s just that refurbishing the existing building stock will have a far greater impact. Just how drastic is the difference in impact, you ask? How about seven times greater for residential retrofits and two times greater for commercial?!

Just think of it from this starting point: “72% of California’s 13 million residential buildings and over 5 billion square feet of commercial structures were built before the implementation of California’s energy efficiency building code (Title 24) in the early 1980’s. This means that 3 out of 4 homes in California have never had to comply with any energy efficiency requirements whatsoever.” (Citation:

AB 758, sponsored by Assembly Member Nancy Skinner, was signed into law in October 2009 to addresses this underserved area.  Now, the program has created a need for hiring at the California Energy Commission to implement the provisions. Jobs, people. Jobs!  (Click here to see the job postings from the California Energy Commission).   I won’t get into it, but for the critics who will gripe about government jobs we can not afford, I argue, we can not afford to waste energy across our great state.  When companies waste money on energy, they don’t hire.  Further, jobs are created to fix the inefficient structures that are identified.

Now, let’s examine what the bill requires.  In summary (and using a great deal of the direct language from the bill) the bill mandates three main initiatives

First, the Energy Commission is required to establish a regulatory proceeding to develop a comprehensive program to achieve greater energy savings in the state’s existing residential and non-residential building stock.  A brief but thorough report on their progress is available here. The CEC created the Home Energy Rating System (HERS Phase II). Next is a complimentary program for commercial buildings. Further, the Energy Commission is required to report on the status of the program in the integrated energy policy report.

(If you’re reading on our home page, click “more” to read on and get links to a power point presentation from Assembly Member Skinner that has tons of great concise information.) (more…)

First ever mobile post, so excuse the brevity.
Mayor Lee will sign the proposed ordinance into law tomorrow.

WHERE: Adobe headquarters, 601 Townsend

WHEN: 10 A.M., Friday, February 18, 2011

I wish I could be there, but I’m out of town.
Congrats, San Francisco!

For our comprehensive analysis, please click here

The San Francisco Board Of Supervisors unanimously passed the Commercial Buildings Energy Performance Ordinance.  The ordinance now goes to Mayor Edwin Lee for signature.  Mayor Lee is expected to sign the ordinance, and its provisions will go into effect as law. 

This is a major step for San Francisco.  Under the ordinance, San Francisco has the opportunity to make drastic cuts to energy use by existing buildings.  It is believed that San Francisco is the largest city to require energy audits of commercial buildings.

For our full analysis of the ordinance, click here

On Tuesday, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the Commercial Buildings Energy Performance Ordinance on the first reading.  The ordinance will be read one more time at next week’s meeting of the Board of Supervisors, and if it passes again without changes, it will be sent to the Mayor for signature.  All indications suggest this ordinance will pass.

For our full analysis and a copy of the proposed ordinance, click here

As we’ve been reporting, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors may vote on the Commercial Buildings Energy Performance Ordinance this week.  The first reading of the ordinance will be Tuesday, February 1, 2011 at 2pm in the Board of Supervisors chamber at City Hall.   It is possible that the Board will vote at that time.  We will let you know how it goes.

For our full analysis and a copy of the proposed ordinance, click here

As mentioned on Friday, the Land Use and Development Committee for the City and County of San Francisco is holding a hearing on Monday, January 24, 2011 to discuss the proposed Existing Commercial Buildings Energy Performance Ordinance.  I encourage you to attend if possible.

The proposed ordinance would require certain commercial buildings to produce two reports, (1) an energy and performance audit every five years and (2) an Annual Energy Benchmark Summary (AEBS).   Save for any confidential information, the audit and the AEBS would be made available to the public.  The ordinance makes sense, but may place a cost on building owners that will inevitably be passed on to renters.  The upside is that renters usually pay for utilities, so energy savings may offset the cost of the audit…something to think about in a green lease, that’s for sure.

Here’s a short summary:

The proposed ordinance will require two reports.  The first report is the AEBS, and that will use the Energy Star Portfolio Manager Energy Performance Rating as a basis.  This report will likely not cost too much money as it is based on the Portfolio Manager software that is freely available, and the data is generated from the local utility (in the case of San Francisco, PG&E).

The second report is a building-wide audit (as defined by ASHRAE Procedures for Commercial Building Energy Audits) conducted by a third-party vendor.  As such, I am guessing the audit likely carries a higher price tag.  Full disclosure, I have never hired someone to do an energy audit for a commercial building, so I am only guessing that the fees are more than nominal.

After the initial three-year staggered start period (which will also be used for the AEBS), the required energy audit would be required once every five years.  As proposed, the audit requirement is as follows:  Level I audits (as defined by ASHRAE) are essentially “walk-through” audits.  These are required for buildings between 10,000 to 49,999 sq ft (smaller buildings).  Level II audits (as defined by ASHRAE) are comprehensive surveys and analyses, and they are required for all buildings 50,000 sq ft and above. (larger buildings).

If owners do not comply with the requirements they may face fines.  The fines are $100/day (for larger buildings) or $50/day (for smaller buildings) for every day of non-compliance up to 25 days per 12 month period.  In other words, the maximum fine per year is $2,500 for a large building and $1,250 for a small building.

In general I like the ordinance but there are some issues that should be addressed… (more…)

This post today is short and sweet, because I want to get the notice out.  San Francisco is contemplating legislation that will require commercial building energy audits.  A hearing in front of the Land Use And Economic Development Committee will be held on Monday, January 24 at 1pm in San Francisco City Hall Room 263. The Board of Supervisors will vote on this soon following a recommendation from the committee.  If you’re interested in attending, go for it!  We support this legislation, but a full and thorough debate is necessary to create effective legislation.

Click here for the committee agenda: 012411 LU Agenda – FINAL

Click here for the ordinance and supporting documents that are under consideration: 101105

We previously covered post-occupancy performance and the proposed legislation (click here for a few of the posts).  Updated analysis will follow this weekend when I have time to write.


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