About Benchmarking

What is benchmarking?

Building benchmarking is measuring the energy and water use, and using that data to compare performance over time as well as compare to similar buildings. Benchmarking allows owners and occupants to understand the relative energy, water and waste. This information helps to make strategic decisions that will save money and energy while improving comfort and health. Starting in 2018, owners of non-residential buildings larger than 50,000 sq. ft. are required to benchmark annually.


What are the benefits of benchmarking?

Economic Benefits

With energy and water costs accounting for an average of 26.8% of office building operating costs nationally, efficiency improvements can help building owners and tenants significantly reduce utility bills. These savings can be put to other needs such as the purchase of goods and services, which drive local economic activity. Making city buildings more efficient also creates jobs at all skill levels, and frees up money to flow back into the local economy.

Public Health Benefits

More than 166 million people, roughly 52% of the U.S. population, lives amidst pollution levels that are too dangerous to breathe. Fossil-fueled power plants are responsible for much of the nation’s sulfur dioxide, which fouls the air. Based on the 2013 sector-based inventory, Pittsburgh’s buildings are responsible for 81% of carbon emissions through the consumption of electricity and natural gas. Energy efficiency is a low-cost energy strategy that reduces pollution by reducing demand for existing and new energy production.

Low-Income Benefits

Urban center account for more than 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Low-income communities face the greatest exposure to aging and poorly constructed housing and coal-burning power plants, both of which can lead to health issues disproportionately impacting this portion of our communities.


How does building benchmarking fit into OnePGH initiatives?

Building benchmarking is a foundational step toward achieving the city’s 2030 goals. For internal city operations, goals include 100% renewable energy use, a 100% fossil fuel-free fleet, and divestment from fossil fuels. For the City of Pittsburgh, goals include a 50% energy use reduction, 50% transportation emission reduction, and to become zero-waste and divest from landfills.


What is the City Energy Project?

The City Energy Project is a national initiative to create healthier and more prosperous American cities by improving the energy efficiency of buildings. Working in partnership, the Project and cities support innovative, practical solutions that cut energy waste, boost local economies, and reduce harmful pollution. The City Energy Project is providing support to assist with the implementation of the ordinance in Pittsburgh.

The pioneering actions of the 20 cities involved in the City Energy Project will be models for communities around the world. City Energy Project Cities include: Atlanta, GA; Boston, MA; Chicago, IL; Des Moines, IA; Fort Collins, CO; Houston, TX; Kansas City, MO; Los Angeles, CA; Miami-Dad County, FL; New Orleans, LA; Orlando, FL; Philadelphia, PA; Pittsburgh, PA; Providence, RI; Reno, NV; Salt Lake City, UT; San Jose, CA; St. Louis, MO; and St. Paul, MN.