Texas State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) City Efficiency Leaders Project and White Papers on Best Practices
Benchmarking City Properties: City of Houston Case Study
This case study summarizes the City of Houston’s efforts around benchmarking 10 million square feet of its city-owned building space, across approximately 400 properties, using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. The City uses the benchmarking data to prioritize buildings for energy retrofits; track progress of retrofit projects; inform the design of behavioral energy use programs; and participate in the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Better Building Challenge, an annual recognition program for high performance buildings. The City has a dedicated benchmarking team that gathers data from a variety of supporting offices, particularly the General Services Department, Human Resources and Administration and Regulatory Affairs, which provides data on monthly utility bills and usage, building operating hours, square footage, ownership, and occupancy, among other required inputs for benchmarking in Portfolio Manager.
Revolving Funds for City Efficiency Projects: City of San Antonio Case Study
This case study summarizes Revolving Funds for City Efficiency Projects in San Antonio, Texas, which has helped the City reduce its annual $34 million utility budget through facilities retrofits. The Revolving Fund was established using $4.6 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in 2011 and has since been used for 398 total municipal retrofits. This has resulted in improved energy performance across the City’s building portfolio and has increased the number of buildings eligible for ENERGY STAR Certification. The program leverages ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager to establish building performance baselines for a comprehensive measurement and verification process of savings attributable to the retrofit. Portfolio Manager savings reports and in-house tracking spreadsheets are also used for tracking energy savings and avoided costs in completed projects.
El Paso’s Energy Savings Challenge
This case study summarizes El Paso’s Behavioral Energy Savings Challenge, an effort by the El Paso Office of Sustainability to reduce municipal energy consumption through cultural shifts within city building maintenance and operations. This program was deployed in library and fire department buildings and required benchmarking to develop energy performance baselines for participating buildings. There were initially significant delays to accessing whole-building monthly utility data benchmarking due to a process of requesting each month’s data, which was eventually resolved when the Facilities and Fleet Management department created a shared drive for regularly uploading utility bills and the Office of Sustainability could capture the data and run analytics through Excel spreadsheets. This process could be streamlined by using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager in future years, which offers combined capabilities of energy use data analytics and automated utility data sharing.
Optimizing Energy and Water Management in Local Governments
This case study looks across six of Texas’ major cities: Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio, at the departments and governmental entities responsible for energy and water efficiency. This statewide report finds that in most cities, more than one governmental entity is in charge of building energy and water efficiency, indicating the need to break down siloes between departments. The report also points out that several cities use ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager as their main way of sharing data across departments and managing energy data. However, Portfolio Manager is also used in a myriad of energy management approaches that also involve configurations of Excel spreadsheets and third party software platforms. This implicates the need to assert statewide best practices and coordinate the approach on energy data management between cities.
Keeping PACE in Texas: PACE in a Box
This toolkit was developed for Texas counties and municipalities to create Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Loan Programs that enable commercial and industrial property owners to obtain low-cost, long-term loans for energy and water efficiency facility improvements. This toolkit promotes the use of ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager in the program application process, where PACE project property owners would use Portfolio Manager to collect energy and water use (across all fuel types) for the first year of a PACE project. The use of Portfolio Manager as an empirical data collection tool also helps with the annual reporting and review process, where projected savings estimates reported to the PACE program administrator should be verified by actual energy and water savings. The PACE program administrator could also make the annually reported data available to the local government accompanied by recommendations for regional and/or statewide policy or program improvements.