Buildings account for approximately 40 percent of total emissions in the Unites States according to the Energy Information Administration (eia).
In urban areas, buildings can represent 50 to 80 percent of energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
For example, buildings account for 72 percent of Boston’s emissions and 66 percent of New York City. Climate goals, many which revolve around reducing carbon emissions, can only be met with a heavy emphasis on building energy efficiency.
Cities that aim to reduce their carbon footprint must put their efforts towards engaging with the building stock and its owners to achieve their emissions targets.
Building energy performance standards, or BPS, are policies which require building owners to meet certain energy targets in order to reach jurisdiction-wide emissions goals and to disclose their building data publicly.
A BPS usually applies to a jurisdiction’s biggest buildings such as commercial and large multifamily buildings with floor areas greater than 25,000 square feet. It is uncommon for A BPS to include single family residences.
BPS policies can incorporate a variety of standards which target specific building components or entire building types. Over time, the standards become stricter, which drives continuous and long-term improvement within the building stock of the city
These types of policies can be very successful in reducing carbon emissions in cities.
For example, Tokyo, The first city to establish a BPS, managed to create a 23 percent reduction in CO2 emissions from the baseline year. Additionally, 93 percent of the covered facilities reduced their emissions beyond their obligations.
Tokyo, Japan was a leader in this space, having established their BPS in 2010. Since then, BPS have begun to spread across the United States beginning with Washington, D.C., New York City, Washington State, Reno and more recently in Boston, Montgomery County, and Maryland to name a few.
For a more complete summary of BPS policy actions in the United States, see NEEP’s BPS Policy Comparison Matrix.