Increasing Energy Efficiency for Existing Commercial Buildings

Increasing Energy Efficiency for Existing Commercial Buildings
10 October 2016

Salt Lake City’s Department of Sustainability Accepting Comments Through October

Salt Lake City is positioned to become a national leader in maximizing energy efficiency in its largest buildings to reduce air pollution, lower climate emissions, and foster local economic development. The City has put together a draft proposal, now up for review, for a new market-based ordinance that aims to reduce pollution and cut energy costs, by increasing the transparency of energy use in large commercial and industrial buildings across the City.

Support Energy Efficiency Solutions

Salt Lake City’s Department of Sustainability is accepting public input on the draft proposal. We encourage you to read on to learn more about what this proposal entails, then let the City know that Utahns support their efforts! Comments can be emailed to Salt Lake City’s Department of Sustainability. Email 

The Department’s proposal includes:

A new city ordinance designed to make a energy performance information accesible and visible to the public. The proposal would require large commercial buildings to (1) track their energy consumption using the free, automated Energy Star Portfolio Manager program, and (2) then submit the building’s Energy Star score to the City each year. A year later, the building’s scores (which are similar to miles-per-gallon ratings on vehicles) would be made available to the public to help businesses, consumers, and investors identify energy efficient buildings. According to City estimates, this ordinance alone would cut energy costs by $9.6 million/year and lower NOx emissions by 29 tons/year. 

Making building energy data transparent will assist efforts to help less efficient buildings access technical and financing resources to make efficeincy improvements. This new data also enables the government and private sectors to instantly recognize and promote energy efficient buildings in our community.

The City is also requesting comments about whether it should also require less efficient buildings to conduct energy “tune-ups” every 5 years. Building energy tune-ups, or “re-commissioning,” represent a high-impact strategy to reduce energy waste at a very low cost. Rather than investing in expensive upgrades, building tune-ups save energy by optimizing and correcting how existing building systems function to ensure energy efficient operation. According to City estimates, including a building tune-up ordinance would further reduce energy costs for participating businesses by $18 million/year and lower NOx emissions by 69 tons/year.

How does this help Utah?

“Area sources,” which include homes, businesses, shopping centers, restaurants, etc. make up 40% of local air pollution, and part of these emissions come from energy use in buildings. Commercial and industrial buildings are also responsible for 60% of SLC’s carbon footprint. Increasing a building’s energy efficiency is a highly affordable strategy to reduce energy waste, lower air pollution and help achieve the City Council and Mayor’s ambitious city-wide energy goals. The City’s proposal will also support local job in Utah's growing energy efficient workforce.

Recent studies show that benchmarking and transparency policies reduce city-wide energy consumption from buildings by 2-4% per year, because building and facility managers become more aware of the relative energy efficiency of their building. And analysis from LBNL found that building re-commissioning cut energy use by 16% on average with a simple payback of only 1.1 years.


There are several opportunities to show your support for bold solutions to reduce energy waste in large buildings across Salt Lake City:

  1. We encourage you to email supportive comments to Salt Lake City’s Department of Sustainability now. Email 
  2. If you’re a Salt Lake City resident or if your business is located in Salt Lake City, we encourage you to write an email to your City Council representative expressing your support for the Elevate Buildings initiative. Find who your City Council representative is http://www.slccouncil.com/.