Ten City Energy Project (CEP) cities ranked among those with the most energy efficient buildings in the country in an annual report released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The report identified the top 25 metro areas with the most ENERGY STAR certified buildings in 2018, with additional lists for top performers among mid-size and small cities.
CEP cities have consistently ranked among the top performers in this report in past years, and this year was no different. Five of the top ten cities were CEP cities (Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, and Boston), and another three ranked among the top 25 (Philadelphia, San Jose, and Miami). Two other CEP cities (Des Moines and Fort Collins) ranked among the top mid-sized cities, with San Jose ranking in first.
While nearly all of these cities have consistently ranked among top cities in past years, several have shown dramatic bounds forward. For example, Los Angeles added nearly 200 certified buildings in this past year, for a nation-leading count of 716 buildings that represent $229 million in cost savings. Similarly, Atlanta added 90 in the past year, and Chicago added 71. In total, this report shows that the 2,497 certified buildings in the ranked CEP cities in 2018 yielded $729 million of cost savings and nearly three million metric tons of avoided GHG emissions. For context, this is equivalent to eliminating the emissions from over 300,000 households.
Notably, these are actual energy and cost reductions, and not merely projected or estimated calculations. In order to receive the one-year ENERGY STAR certification, a building must benchmark energy consumption through the free online tool Portfolio Manager and obtain an ENERGY STAR score of 75 of higher - demonstrating an energy performance that exceeds 75 percent of similar buildings across the country. An ENERGY STAR certified building uses 35 percent less energy than a typical building and produces 35 percent less GHG emissions. On average, those that achieve certification have reduced their emissions by 10 percent since they started benchmarking.
In addition, this report bolsters the growing evidence that benchmarking and transparency laws are key to a cleaner and cheaper building sector. Twelve of the top 20 cities on this list have passed this common-sense local law to track and report energy use in large buildings. These types of policies have been shown to incentivize significant energy reduction among building owners and operators. A three-year study by the EPA showed that buildings consistently benchmarking their energy consumption benefit from a 2.4 percent year-on-year reduction in energy use. Another study has shown that benchmarking and transparency laws in four cities have reduced utility expenses by three percent. With over 400 cities committing to the Paris Climate Agreement, and buildings often being responsible for at least 50 percent of the carbon emissions in cities, benchmarking building energy use is a foundational step cities should encourage building owners to take.