A push for energy efficiency

How much energy every major commercial building in San Francisco uses will become much clearer if legislation by Mayor Gavin Newsom is drafting is approved.

The legislation, which will likely be introduced early next year, would require The City’s building owners to “identify all cost-effective ways to reduce energy use” in terms of lighting, waste disposal and water consumption, officials said.

The initiative would not force buildings to make improvements, but would encourage the changes by showing how much owners could save in annual energy costs, Newsom said.

Anywhere from 40 percent to 75 percent of the audit costs would be covered by programs offered by The City’s Department of Environment and Pacific Gas & Electric Co., the mayor said.

The department conducts audits free for some smaller commercial buildings.

Audits recommended for city buildings larger than 50,000 square feet would typically cost 10 cents per square foot when counting utility incentives, according to a new 62-page report released by a task force the mayor assembled last year.

The task force is comprised of building owners, architects, engineers and other stakeholders.

Buildings would also have to submit annual energy reports to The City, the Mayor’s Office said.

The City’s commercial buildings account for near 40 percent of The City’s greenhouse gas emissions, the task force report said.

Owners of the iconic Transamerica Pyramid Building, which recently received LEED Gold-certification, said energy improvements slashed their utility costs by 25 percent, or $600,000 annually.

Last week, New York City passed similar legislation requiring audits for buildings greater than 50,000 square feet every 10 years, with the goal to reduce the city’s carbon count by 30 percent by 2030.

Newsom wants city buildings to use 50 percent less energy in 20 years, which he says can be achieved in a fraction of that time.

Due to the savings potential, “40 percent of people that get energy audits tend to do the entire energy retrofit,” the mayor said.

There are already city regulations on efficiency standards at newly constructed buildings, “but the majority of San Francisco is old buildings,” Department of Environment chief Jared Blumenfeld said.

Newsom’s legislation has received support from the Building Owners and Managers Association of San Francisco, which represents about 275 buildings accounting for 80 percent of The City’s commercial space.

“Most members of high-rise office buildings have already done that assessment, said Ken Cleaveland, BOMA S.F.’s director of government and public affairs.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

Bay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Jill Bonny, owner of Studio Kazoku tattoo parlor in the Haight, tattoos client Lam Vo on Friday, March 5, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
No one was fighting for tattoo artists, so they started advocating for themselves

Jill Bonny has been tattooing in the Bay Area since 2000. Four… Continue reading

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted changes to The City's streets including Slow Streets closures to increase open space access and the Shared Spaces program, which allows businesses to use public right-of-ways for dining, retail and services. (Examiner illustration)
COVID is reshaping the streets of San Francisco

Walk down Page Street, which is closed to thru-traffic, and you might… Continue reading

At a rally in February, Monthanus Ratanapakdee, left, and Eric Lawson remember Vicha Ratanapakdee, an 84-year-old Thai man who died after he was pushed to the pavement in San Francisco. (Ekevara Kitpowsong/Examiner file photo)
The criminal justice system can’t fix what’s wrong in our community

My 87-year-old mother walks gingerly, slowly, deliberately, one step in front of… Continue reading

Superintendent Vincent Matthews said some students and families who want to return will not be able to do so at this time. “We truly wish we could reopen schools for everyone,” he said. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFUSD sets April reopening date after reaching tentative agreement with teachers union

San Francisco Unified School District has set April 12 as its reopening… Continue reading

José Victor Luna and Maria Anabella Ochoa, who cite health reasons for continuing distance learning, say they have been enjoying walking in Golden Gate Park with their daughters Jazmin, a first grader, and Jessica, a third grader. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Some SFUSD families prefer distance learning

Health issues, classroom uncertainties among reasons for staying home

Most Read