|The city of Orlando is making great strides forward to become one of the nation’s most energy-efficient cities. Now, new legislation will tackle buildings, one of the country’s largest producers of carbon pollution.
Last week, Orlando legislators passed the Building Energy and Water Efficiency Strategy (BEWES) ordinance, which requires buildings over 50,000 square feet to report their energy and water use annually. The local ordinance passed unanimously.
Additionally, the ordinance requires all buildings that all buildings that consume more energy than the national average undergo an energy audit. These audits will identify the causes of excessive energy use, and also help to find low-cost solutions and improvements, like programmable thermostats that can save about $180 every year. Auditors and officials hope to help reduce money spent on energy bills.
Officials estimate that over the next 15 years, if properly implemented, the policy could save $208 million in energy use as well as create over 500 local, specialized, and high-paying jobs.
The energy audits may also help save 900 million gallons of water and prevent 1.1 million metric tons of carbon pollutants. The policy will take effect in May 2018.
Orlando is the first city in Florida to pass this type of policy, joining a growing list of U.S. cities concerned with building carbon pollution. Building account for 40% of all energy consumption nationwide and rack up $430 billion in energy bills.
In Orlando, the numbers are a bit higher. Buildings account for more than 70% of energy use, producing even more carbon emissions.
The development of the project began nearly three years ago when Mayor Buddy Dyer announced that Orlando would join the City Energy Project, which helps cities become more energy efficient and sustainable by tackling existing issues.
Since the summer of 2015, Orlando has invested $18 million in improving the efficiency of public buildings and has audited at least 55 municipal buildings. These efforts, prior to the implementation of BEWES, has saved the city up to $2.5 million annually. The savings are being set aside to help fund the construction of a new police headquarters.