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Benchmarking Requirement

Require commercial properties to benchmark their energy consumption annually and require energy audits every five year with implementation.

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How are you connected to Sunnyvale?

  • I work for the City of Sunnyvale.

What type of applicant are you?

  • For-profit

Stage of Development.

  • Idea with demonstrated evidence of impact (ready to expand beyond Sunnyvale)

What problem are you aiming to solve? (100 words)

Based on the 2014 Sunnyvale CAP, 39% of emissions are derived from commercial and industrial sector, the highest emitter category, where existing buildings performance reduction is critical.

Tell us more about your climate strategy or solution (500 words)

This idea is about requiring benchmarking, energy assessment (both short-term and deep-retrofit), and implementation of energy efficiently measures for existing building stocks that are high energy consumers. This would involve into a city ordinance or requirements for building owners to be accountable and address their emissions and consumptions directly in the community. Moreover, this incentivizes on-going efforts for buildings to perform the best that they can be without a one-time monetary incentive from tax payers. This has been implemented by other cities, including the City of Boulder. Link:

Describe how your solution could be a game-changer for your selected Opportunity Area (100 words)

This will be a game-changer because it targets the highest emission category and the bulk of the existing constructions where current strategies are more oriented toward new constructions.

Explain how your idea would be implemented in Sunnyvale (700 words)

The city should require building owners to benchmark their energy usage through existing tools such as EnergySTAR Portfolio Manager and Green Button Data. In the same ordinance, it is recommended that the city will also require energy assessments either every 2-5 year and a deep-retrofit assessment every 10-15 years. Additionally, implementation of building tune-ups should also be required if the existing building performance (measured by Energy Usage Intensity or other carbon-based key performance indicator) is below certain threshold. It is recommended that a carbon-based KPI should be used to avoid manipulation of EUI from one nonrenewable fuel source to another. Reporting requirements may be targeted toward a building type and size that are high energy consumptions with little change over time. This assessment will depend on the building stock and adjust the strategy accordingly. Exemption to rule including historic buildings or others with deserving criteria. Successful implementation of this idea is seen from City of Boulder, for example.

What kind of impact will your idea have? (250 words)

This strategy will likely to have a long-term and effective impact in the commercial and industrial energy consumption since it has the largest emissions amount as stated by the CAP. Moreover, it is a policy that will not only target new construction, but specifically encouraging building owners to take energy efficiency into their own hands. While providing incentives is an effective strategy of the past, it only guarantee a one-time implementation course.

Scale: Describe how your idea could reach a significant number of people affected. (250 words)

The stakeholders would include all commercial and industrial business owners as well as effective planning from the City to roll out a platform that is able to collect the benchmarking data and track compliance from each site that meets the required criteria. Because this ordinance does incur periodic and cyclic energy assessment work, it is advantageous to team up with vendors to establish a core group of resources that the city can suggest to building owners who don't have any idea how to start.

Feasibility: Where are you with understanding the feasibility of your idea? Describe what you’ve done so far and your plans. (500 words)

The City of Boulder population is about 100,000 people while the city of Sunnyvale population is around 150,000 people. Because other cities of similar size have went through this implementation, it is likely very feasible that the City of Sunnyvale can achieve this as well and perhaps even better knowing the lesson learned and obstacle that other implementers have faced. Clearly, the first cost may appear intimidating and may require a few years of planning to roll out an effective system. The avoided cost and avoided carbon emissions will work as if they're passive investments and compound interests.

As you consider your next steps, what kinds of help could you use? Is there a type of expertise that would be most helpful? (300 words)

The technical aspect of the operatives will require expertise in ArcGIS, databases, and web development, all of which the Bay Area's specialty. First phrase would require planning and building energy stock assessment using scenarios and possibly energy modeling simulation software to determine what the strategy targets are, what make sense, what are the criteria (building type, size, etc.). Meanwhile, the team would be laying the groundwork and to engage stakeholders and understanding the technology requirements from previous implementers. Following phrases would include a roll-out plan.

Are you willing to share your email contact information submitted on OpenIDEO with our partners?

  • No, please do not share my contact information

[Optional] Attachments: Please upload relevant attachments or graphics or show us how you came up with your idea.

I came up with this idea as I have seen it from other cities, so the credit goes to them.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Barbara F

Your are on to an important policy that addresses the commercial/industrial sector. It looks like benchmarking is an idea whose time has come!

“June 1, 2018 is the deadline to submit 2017 building energy use benchmarking data to the California Energy Commission for buildings with more than 50,000 square feet of gross floor area and no residential utility accounts.”

San Francisco, Berkeley and Los Angeles also have local benchmarking and local disclosure programs that are more rigorous than the state’s, according to the state website above. There are links to their programs at the above link. Maybe Sunnyvale could likewise adopt stronger requirements, similar to these cities?

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