San Francisco mandates measurement, publication of energy performance in buildings

“What gets measured gets managed” is an old business maxim that San Francisco’s city government is taking to heart in terms of commercial building energy use. On Friday, Mayor Ed Lee signed the Existing Commercial Building Energy Performance Ordinance into law. The legislation that would require regular energy performance audits, and publication of the data, for existing buildings in the city.

Needless intrusion of government into the private sector? Not exactly… if anything, San Francisco’s new law will harness market forces to make improving energy efficiency of buildings a no-brainer. The ordinance requires building owners

  1. to determine, and publish, a building’s energy use annually
  2. to conduct an energy efficiency audit every five years.

No actions are required beyond that, but it’s safe to guess that once buildings owners (and building tenants) get a good look at the costs created by inefficient operations, and the benefits of retrofitting for better performance, they’ll want to take action. Potential tenants may well make choices based on energy costs found in the public data. Fortunately, steps to improve building energy use aren’t pie-in-the-sky and ridiculously expensive: according to, our existing building stock “could be made up to 50% more energy efficient with currently available products and services.”

San Francisco isn’t the only city requiring such measurements and reporting: similar requirements are in place in Seattle, New York City, and Austin, Texas; Washington state and California also do this at the statewide level.

What do you think? A smart way to leverage transparency? An onerous regulation? Let us know what you think…

via San Francisco Sentinel


Image credit: Karen Doherty and NREL/DOE