By: Lori Wisniewski Azzara and Robert G. Ruggieri
Philadelphia City Counsel recently passed Bill No. 120428-A, which amends Chapter 9-3400 of The Philadelphia Code, to establish a system of benchmarking and reporting energy and water usage data for certain commercial buildings and mixed-use buildings.
The Mayor’s Office of Sustainability is responsible for administering the Ordinance, which applies to “Covered Buildings,” which include commercial buildings with an indoor floor space of 50,000 square feet or greater and commercial portions of mixed-use buildings where a total of at least 50,000 square feet of indoor floor space is devoted to any commercial use.
Under the Ordinance, Covered Buildings must annually report their energy usage (electricity, natural gas, steam and heating oil), water usage and building characteristics through an internet-based data system known as “Portfolio Manager.” Building owners can arrange for their energy and water usage information to be electronically reported directly by the utility/energy supplier. However, building owners must still annually report their building’s characteristics, including, among other statistics, the age of the building, type of use, operating hours, portion of the building that is heated and/or air conditioned, and the number of computers and refrigerators used in the building.
Tenants occupying space in a Covered Building do not have a separate reporting requirement. However, if the tenant’s space is separately metered by a utility company, the tenant must timely provide the required reporting data to the owner.
Failure to comply with the reporting requirements within thirty (30) days of the reporting deadline will result in a $300 fine, plus $100 each day thereafter.
Most notable is the Ordinance’s disclosure requirement. The data reported on a Covered Building is to be provided, upon request, to prospective buyers or lessees. In addition, the Ordinance contemplates having the data available online so that property owners, tenants, prospective purchasers and the public at large can view and compare energy and water usage among buildings. The disclosure will be especially beneficial to prospective tenants and/or buyers who have unique or specific energy needs or goals. It will also allow property owners to see how their buildings perform in comparison to other similar buildings, thereby allowing owners to make their buildings more energy efficient to keep up with market demands.
“Step by step, we are taking action to make Philadelphia the Greenest City in America,” said Councilwoman Reynolds Brown, co-sponsor of the Ordinance and Chair of City Council’s Committee on the Environment. Philadelphia now joins Austin, New York, San Francisco, Seattle and the District of Columbia as cities that have passed energy benchmarking laws.
Lori Wisniewski Azzara is an Associate at Cohen Seglias Pallas Greenhall & Furman PC. Ms. Azzara practices in the areas of construction and commercial litigation and has experience in contract negotiation, claims for delay and inefficiency, mechanics’ liens, and all types of contractual disputes.
Robert Ruggieri is a Senior Associate at Cohen Seglias Pallas Greenhall & Furman PC and practices in the area of complex construction litigation.