Philly Ripe For Green Retrofits, Studies Say

Memo to downtown Philadelphia: your commercial buildings are prime candidates for energy efficient green retrofits. According to a task team for the Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster (GPIC) for Energy-Efficient Buildings, which recently commissioned two reports on the subject, taking advantage of the opportunity to increase energy efficiency in the city’s commercial buildings could spur $618 million in local spending and support 23,500 green jobs.

The first of these reports details which buildings are most in need of retrofitting, while the second report outlines policies and programs already undertaken in the region to encourage retrofits, delineating additional steps that could help Philadelphia take advantage of the economic opportunity afforded by upgrading commercial buildings.

Buildings

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“The Market for Commercial Property Energy Retrofits in the Philadelphia Region,” conducted by Econsult Corporation at the behest of the GPIC, identifies 47 percent of the commercial and flex-industrial space between 20,000 and 100,000 square feet in the Philadelphia area for which data is available as potential candidates for energy retrofits. This report compiled information on commercial building age, type, enclosure, materials, energy load and owner concentration in the region, laying the groundwork for such retrofits.

The second report, authored by the GPIC’s staff, is entitled “Policy and Process Factors Impacting Commercial Building Energy Efficiency in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.” Factors examined in this report include laws, regulations, financial incentives, contracts, public bidding requirements and more shown to have an impact in driving green commercial building retrofits. The study concluded that while Pennsylvania and New Jersey have enacted many of the available policy levers that help to encourage energy efficiency retrofits, there are still numerous direct and indirect barriers in place. Another key finding: The processes necessary for full valuation of energy efficiency improvements are not yet mature in the two states, resulting in increased transaction costs and making investments in such retrofits less valuable.

Both reports, as well as supporting materials, are available on the GIPC website.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.

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