In 2009 New York City instituted mandatory energy use reporting for all buildings over 50,000 sf – initiating a potential windfall of useful information to better understand what our big buildings are actually doing. And if we could understand what is actually being consumed we’d have a better shot at making substantial performance improvements. While compliance is an issue, the really tricky thing is the understanding part. A mountain of data in an excel spreadsheet doesn’t automatically translate to understanding. Enter NYC’s Urban Green Council (UGC) and their trailblazing website Metered New York.
Metered New York provides a user interface that lets you find the numbers, and better still, to compare them from one building to another. Sure the Chrysler Building and Empire State buildings competed for height supremacy in the Great Depression, but which one is winning the carbon battle today? Despite the much publicized recent efforts to improve the Empire State Building’s performance, the Chrysler Building wins! The Chrysler Building has a Source EUI (Energy Use Intensity) of 171.3 kBTU/SF*yr versus 180.5 for the Empire State Building. While the much touted New York Times building clocks in a reported Source EUI of 276 and a Site EUI of 134.8.
This last data set raises some questions as to just what data is being reported to the city. While UGC has done a great job flagging questionable reporting, this 2013 article notes that scientists from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) measured the NY Times Building Site EUI at 29, just 22% of the self-reported 134.8 number.
More sobering still is that even if LBNL is correct it is still more than double the site EUI of approximately 13 that Passive House requires.
We encourage everyone in New York City to find their buildings or the building they admire, see what the reported energy use is, and compare. Compare the buildings to each other and compare them with where we need to go. Too many buildings have a Source EUI of over 100 and even over 200 and 300. The new Cooper Union LEED Platinum Architecture Building (41 Cooper Square) clocks in at a Source EUI of 396! A platinum plated climate catastrophe. We believe it.
Source EUI for Passive House is just 38. Check out the numbers and let’s push toward Passive House.