Solving Cities

San Francisco's new green building law requires energy audits

San Francisco's new green building law requires energy audits

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A new city ordinance will increase efficiency in commercial buildings and hold them accountable to the public for their energy use.

Non-residential buildings in San Francisco will now be held accountable to the public for how much energy they use.

The Existing Commercial Building Energy Performance Ordinance was signed by San Francisco's mayor, Edwin Lee, last Friday, and will require that existing commercial buildings make their energy-usage reports available to the public annually. The new city code also requires that buildings over 10,000 square feet complete an energy efficiency audit every five years.

“San Francisco needs to increase the energy and resource efficiency of existing buildings if we are going to meet our aggressive greenhouse gas reduction targets,” Mayor Lee said in a statement. “This new green building code will educate building owners about what they need to do to save energy and money, and boost our local green economy.”

The city's climate action plan -- adopted in 2002 -- aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.

The city's new code falls in line with President Barack Obama's Better Buildings Initiative, which the president announced earlier this month. Last year commercial buildings used about 20 percent of all energy in the U.S. The president, though, plans to make commercial buildings 20 percent more energy efficient over the next decade.

San Francisco, at least, is off to a good start.

Photo: xk1sv/Flickr

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Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure