Understanding the Philadelphia Building Energy Performance Program

By Dailey Tipton  

History
In 2012, Philadelphia joined in with sustainability focused municipalities across the country and created The Energy Benchmarking and Disclosure Law (Philadelphia Code, Section 9-3402). Since 2012, 27 cities, one county and three states have established energy benchmarking and transparency requirements covering public, commercial, industrial and multifamily buildings.

As part of the program, Philadelphia mandated the use of the EPA’s Energy Star and Portfolio Manager to assist with calculating building energy use. As of last year, 320 million sq. ft. of building space conducts mandatory energy benchmarking, representing 20% of the city’s total square feet of building space.

Where Are We Now?
Philadelphia’s Municipal Energy Master Plan has a goal of cutting the city’s carbon footprint from municipal buildings by 50% and procuring 100% clean energy by 2030. Mayor Jim Kenney’s goal is to cut carbon pollution citywide by 80% by 2050 and move toward using 100% clean energy.

The next step in the city’s ambitious energy conservation program, announced in November 2019 (Bill #190600), is the Building Energy Performance Program. The Building Energy Performance Program mandates that all non-residential buildings, 50,000 sq. ft. and larger, must submit a certification of high energy performance to the Philadelphia Office of Sustainability, or conduct a building energy “tune-up” to increase the energy performance of the building. The policy is now officially in effect, with compliance deadlines beginning September 2021. It is important to note that due to COVID-19, hotel owners with a compliance deadline of September 30, 2021, can apply for a six-month extension. To request an extension, building owners must submit a Compliance Extension Request Form by April 5, 2021. The Philadelphia Office of Sustainability has released several resources to help hotel owners and operators comply with the new regulation. Visit the policy website for more information.

The Building Energy Performance Rule (Philadelphia Code 9-3403) contains a number of important provisions, along with a number of important exemptions.

Provisions:

  • Hotel owners must submit a building tune-up report. The tune-up report must summarize energy and water performance issues found by a “qualified tune-up specialist” (licensed P.E. or Certified Energy Manager, CEM), no later than the following schedule:
    1. September 30, 2021 for buildings 200,000 sq. ft. or larger
    2. September 30, 2022 for buildings 100,000 sq. ft. or larger
    3. September 30, 2023 for buildings 70,000 sq. ft. or larger
    4. September 30, 2024 for buildings between 50,000 and 70,000 sq. ft.
  • Each building must then re-submit their tune-up report every five years.
  • Building tune-ups must include assessments of certain identified base building systems that use or impact the building’s energy and water use (e.g., building envelope, heating and ventilation systems, domestic hot water systems, electrical lighting).

Exemptions:
Your facility is exempt if it meets the following:

  • Received Certified EPA Energy Star Scores of 75 or greater. A qualified energy consultant can conduct an EPA energy benchmark on your building to determine your current EPA Energy Star Certification.
  • Completed an energy audit (ASHRAE Level II) and implemented the “no-cost/low-cost” energy efficiency measures that were identified in the audit to meet the tune-up requirements.

How Can Hotel Owners and Operators Best Comply?
As mentioned above, there are several exemptions to the new policy that can allow the Building Energy Performance Program to generate potential cash flow and positive savings for a building owner or operator.

Regardless of your strategy to support this pending regulation, as an owner or operator of a 50,000-sq.-ft. building in the region, we suggest:

  • Review the regulation HERE.
  • Contact a certified energy consultant to support your building tune up efforts. (The initial Audit and Strategy report should be executed at no cost. If it does, call EEP.)

Dailey Tipton is VP of Evolution Energy Partners, a full-service energy management and consulting firm offering best-in-class sustainability, energy efficiency, procurement and analytical solutions. As the leader for revenue generation for the company, he focuses on creating opportunities for customers to drive impact to their bottom line through energy management projects, while increasing their sustainable footprint.

This is a contributed piece to Hotel Business, authored by an industry professional. The thoughts expressed are the perspective of the bylined individual.

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