energy consumption

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Going green: new city law requires buildings to report energy use

While more than 25 percent of Seattle’s total greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings, few property managers know how much energy their individual buildings consume.

 “They all know the mileage of their car,” Jayson Antonoff, sustainable infrastructure & green building policy advisor for the Seattle Department of Planning & Development, said. “But not the energy use of their building.”

By not knowing the amount, managers also don’t know how efficient their buildings are. Because many of the buildings are not as energy efficient as they could be, much of the energy paid for by property owners, building managers and tenants  goes to waste.

That could change. A new Seattle ordinance now requires managers of buildings larger than 10,000 square feet -- a total of about 9,000 buildings -- to report and disclose their annual energy consumption to the city.

“You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” Senior Policy Associate for the NW Energy Coalition Kim Drury said. “Feedback is critical in energy management.” The coalition is focused on development of renewable energy and energy conservation.

Drury was one of 50 people, including property managers, tenants, city officials and energy conservation activists, who worked in developing this policy as a way to achieve the overall goal of the Green Building Capital Initiative, which was to reduce energy consumption in Seattle’s existing buildings by 20 percent.

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Seattle meets greenhouse gas goals two years ahead of schedule

The population of Seattle rose 16 percent since 1990, but the city's overall energy consumption climbed only slightly. Amazingly, greenhouse gas production is down 7 percent.

rita_hibbardwebThat’s a goal the city is meeting two years earlier than it had hoped, admittedly aided by a declining economy that took vehicles off the street and pushed down energy consumption, but also a sign of steps the city has taken, Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels says. Read the city's report here.

Reporting on the Nickel’s determined drive to push the city meet the international Kyoto Protocol capping carbon dioxide and other gases after the Bush administration backed off, Seattle Times reporter Craig Welch writes of challenges to come. The biggest issue remaining will be driving, with emissions from road vehicles rising 5.5 percent in the past three years. Most of the growth in emissions came from commercial truck traffic. Still, the city sees reasons for optimism.

"The encouraging news is that on a per-capita basis it [transportation] is going in the other direction," said Jill Simmons, senior climate-policy adviser for the city. City officials also said recent efforts to boost transit, build walkable neighborhoods, make parking more expensive and add bike lanes will help get more people out of their cars in coming years.

The city is measuring its greenhouse gas emissions every three years in three categories -- homes, commercial buildings and heavy industry.