SAN ANTONIO – The scorching heat wave is putting a strain on the energy grid and residents have been asked to conserve energy, but are companies with large properties doing their part, or are they being energy hogs?
Doug Melnick says since 2019 the City of San Antonio has been formally exploring ways to help reduce greenhouse emissions. One of those ways is by taking a look at which sectors produce the most.
“44% of our emissions came from the building sector. So it’s the largest sector,” Melnick said.
The focus has been on looking at how large buildings over 50,000 square feet rank against each other. It’s called Energy Bechmarks, and staff is suggesting that San Antonio adopt it.
“Providing large property owners much needed data to make informed decisions and then providing again that basic information for consumers to really understand where are the best performing buildings in the city. And we’re hoping those two things really can drive improvement in building performance,” he said.
Melnick said about 40 cities in the nation have adopted similar policies, and data suggests it is working.
The Chief Climate Officer for the City of Denver, Grace Rink, said the city/county adopted the benchmark reporting in 2016. It required buildings to report their energy use. Last year they moved to the next phase of the plan, called Energized Denver Building Performance Policy.
“We are actually requiring all those same buildings that have to report their energy use. They actually have to reduce their energy use as well. And so the first reporting year is actually not until 2024. So 2024, 2027 and 2030 are the big years. And by 2030, most of our large buildings will need to show at least a 30% reduction in energy use in order to comply with that ordinance,” she said.
But Rink said the goal is not to make these companies pay fines, but instead help them reduce their energy consumption. She says in most cases it will be cheaper to make changes to comply than to pay the fine.
“Every single year, it becomes more and more clear that we simply have to do the hard work that it takes around the world to fight climate change and to drastically reduce the emissions that we’re putting into the atmosphere,” Rink said.
San Antonio City Council will hear a draft proposal by the end of the year. As temperatures reach record highs, Melnick said it is clear that changes have to be made.
“Energy is becoming much more of a priority for communities, as climate change is becoming much more of an urgent matter,” he said.
Right now, how much energy buildings use is proprietary data that only CPS Energy has access to.
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