Salt Lake City has taken a huge step in making itself more green. On August 29, the City Council of Salt Lake City approved an ordinance that will require large commercial buildings to benchmark their energy performance. Efforts by USGBC Utah helped push this ordinance over the finish line.
Under this policy, nonresidential buildings over 25,000 square feet will be mandated to benchmark their energy consumption annually using the U.S. EPA's Energy Star Portfolio Manager, which will in turn be shared with the city. Lower-performing buildings will be required to evaluate the need for energy “tune-ups” every five years, to optimize their systems’ performance.
Salt Lake City will be in good company, as it will be the 25th city in the U.S. to adopt a benchmarking requirement. In fact, cities with benchmarking policies in place have seen a 1.6–14 percent reduction in building energy use over two- to four-year period.
Not only will Salt Lake City benefit from reduced energy consumption and operational expenses as a result of this new policy, but the city will see environmental improvements as well. By requiring benchmarking among large commercial buildings, Salt Lake City will see improved air quality, which is especially notable in a metro area ranked by the American Lung Association as having the sixth worst short-term particle air pollution among 186 monitored metro areas.
At the end of 2016, USGBC and GBCI officially launched Arc, a digital platform that enables any project to benchmark against itself and similar projects. Buildings, communities and entire cities can use Arc to benchmark and work toward LEED certification.