Sustainability & Energy Efficiency

Philadelphia Building Managers Taking Steps to Reduce Carbon Emissions, Promote Clean Air

2 min read

Across the country, initiatives to improve energy efficiency in buildings are becoming more commonplace and more stringent in an effort to help cities and states achieve goals of a carbon-free future. Philadelphia is one example.

In 2012, the city of Philadelphia passed its “Build Energy Benchmarking” policy requiring non-residential buildings that are 50,000 feet or larger to benchmark and report energy usage data. This initiative supports Philadelphia’s goal of reducing carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050 set by Mayor Jim Kenney but precedes the city’s aggressive goal.1

Philadelphia is one of 25 cities to join the American Cities Climate Challenge aimed at reducing city-wide emissions via improvements in transit and buildings sectors – two areas traditionally responsible for 80% total of all citywide emissions and over which mayors have significant authority, according to a press release on

Currently, Philadelphia buildings eligible for the 1 to 100 Energy Star score received an average rating of 58, but the score required to be ENERGY STAR-certified as a high-performing building is 75, proving that most buildings have opportunities for improvement.2 Large buildings, such as hospitals and universities, contribute nearly half of the carbon emissions in the portfolio of properties reported in Philadelphia, according to benchmarking data.2

How Does Reporting Work?

Eligible buildings must track and report their annual energy and water use using the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager® tool. The owner of a covered building must submit their previous year’s data on the portfolio manager tool by June 30th of each year.3

Exemptions may be granted for certain building scenarios, including: if significant portions of buildings are unoccupied for certain time periods, benchmarking or disclosure causes exceptional hardship or not in the public interest, if used for energy-intensive manufacturing or industrial purposes which benchmarking results would have difficulty accounting for, or if ownership changes resulting in lack of access to full calendar year of utility bills.4

Commercial building owners who fail to comply by the June 30 deadline are subject to a $300 fine for the first month they are late and subsequent $100 fines for each day they are late thereafter.5

Benchmarking data is publicly disclosed via an online database, showing building owners’ efforts to reduce emissions and better the local air. Environmentally-conscious investors, tenants and other stakeholders may look to this data prior to investing or signing a lease to see a building manager’s commitment to environmental stewardship.

What Energy-Efficient Upgrades Should Business Make to Their Buildings?

Philadelphia businesses looking to get started on improving the sustainability status of their buildings can take advantage of Constellation’s Efficiency Made Easy (EME) program. Through EME, you can identify and implement efficiency upgrades that can help you reduce energy costs and manage usage. Plus, the program requires no upfront capital so you can preserve your budget for other business priorities.

Upgrades and improvements may include:

• LED lighting
• Building automation controls
• Building envelope [external walls, windows, roof and foundation]
• HVAC and cooling

For more information on our Efficiency Made Easy solution, visit

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