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New York City’s Energy and Water Use 2014 and 2015 Report

We combined the 2014 and 2015 New York City building benchmarking data with building auditing data to explore energy use and systems in thousands of NYC buildings.

Original publication by Urban Green Council • October 16, 2017

The buildings studied in this report make up almost half of NYC’s total floor area—roughly 2.6 billion square feet. The report also includes 450 million square feet of municipal building area.

Collected under Local Laws 84 and 87, this data shows the amount of energy and water used by our buildings, as well as how they’re using it.

NYC's Energy and Water Use 2014 and 2015 Report

In 2014 and 2015…

  1. Large buildings cut their total emissions by almost 14 percent and energy usage by nearly 10 percent.
  2. Large buildings accounted for 30 percent of NYC emissions.
  3. Heavy fuel oil use decreased.

This report contains a series of firsts:

Emissions down 14 percent

Large NYC buildings continue to cut their energy and carbon emissions. Buildings that regularly benchmarked have decreased their energy usage by nearly 10 percent and their total emissions by almost 14 percent.

This is encouraging news. However, it is important to note that half of these declines are due to a cleaner electrical grid and more efficient district steam generation. Now that most New York State electricity generation from coal and oil has transitioned to natural gas and renewables, building owners will have to dig deeper into energy efficiency to keep up the pace.

Large buildings account for 30 percent of NYC emissions

Heavy fuel oil use decreased

The NYC Clean Heat program was a major factor that contributed to the 14 percent emissions reductions reported between 2010 and 2015. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) phased out the use of the heaviest oils—fuel oils number 5 and 6—as primary heating fuels between 2011 and 2015. The City has achieved nearly full compliance with this regulation.

The decrease in heavy fuel oil use was confirmed by the benchmarking data. In 2010, more than 1,000 buildings reported using number 6. By 2015, those buildings had reduced their heavy fuel energy use by 92 percent. Buildings switching away from those fuel oils replaced them with natural gas or else fuel oil numbers 2 and 4. And though natural gas use in these buildings nearly tripled over the six years, overall energy use dropped—partly due to efficiencies afforded by new equipment and building improvements.

Efficiency is improving, but reductions have been uneven

Building sectors varied in their energy reductions, but each has seen at least a slight decrease in energy intensity. After an initial 5 percent drop, multifamily buildings have been stagnant for the past few years; offices have experienced regular declines and universities have been the all-stars of NYC, with a 20 percent reduction.

What we’ve learned about building systems

Dive into our analysis of each of these issues and see our complete list of findings and recommendations in the full report.

This report was created in partnership with the NYC Mayor’s Office of Sustainability and NYU Center for Urban Science and Progress.