Resilience strategies that work

Zach Bamman, Energy Efficiency Advisor, Miami-Dade County - Office of Resilience

Building Efficiency 305:

Buildings play an important role in Miami-Dade County’s resilience efforts. For this reason, the County has joined a national initiative to cut waste in large buildings and make American cities healthier and more prosperous through energy and water efficiency. The Miami-Dade County Office of Resilience has teamed up with Miami-Dade County’s Water and Sewer Department to launch Building Efficiency 305 (BE305), a locally tailored plan to significantly increase the energy and water efficiency of our existing large private and public buildings. The goals of the program aim not only to expand economic resilience, but to reduce climate pollution, increase the resilience of our buildings, energy and water infrastructure, as well as address long-term climate change impacts such as sea level rise, heat waves, drought and flooding.

Why Miami-Dade and Why Large Buildings?

Across the country, large cities and counties have been leading the way on sustainability and resiliency issues through policy development. These cities and counties have the ambition and political will to pursue innovative initiatives to increase energy and water efficiency in buildings. Furthermore, the majority of large buildings are concentrated within these urban areas and account for a significant portion of each community’s water and energy use.
By focusing on the largest buildings first, Miami-Dade County can capture a considerable portion of the square footage of their built environment while working with a more manageable number of buildings. Improving the energy and water performance of these large buildings yields significant results with huge potential. If we target buildings 20,000 square feet and above, we can capture over 43% of our county’s floor space, while working with just 2% of our total built environment.

Who Else is Taking This Approach?

There are 20 pioneering communities involved in this national initiative who are working to boost their local economies and reduce pollution, and their leadership is helping to shape next-generation energy efficiency strategies for communities nationwide.  These pioneering communities communicate on a regular basis to learn from each other and share best practices, ensuring economies of scale and better results.
Potential savings and benefits vary by community, and multiple variables affect overall savings, including the number and size of buildings and the carbon content of the community’s energy supply mix (e.g., coal, nuclear, hydropower, etc.) For example, by pursuing thoughtful, well-designed programs and policies, New York City’s strategy alone resulted in cumulative energy savings of 5.7% (more than $267 million) and carbon emissions reduction of 9% during the first four years of the project, according to the Department of Energy.  Similarly in San Francisco, their policy strategy resulted in a 7.9% cumulative reduction in energy use.

What’s Next?

We have recently concluded a series of public community meetings to gather perspectives and solicit input on the opportunities and challenges associated with these programs and policies, and we are currently organizing a working group to determine how to best implement BE305 in our community.  We are stepping up our engagement with our municipalities, assisting in benchmarking their municipal facilities, as well as developing different training opportunities to offer to our broader community members.  We are also working with our electric utility provider to create a Pilot Study to provide whole building electricity consumption data to help facilitate the public and private sector’s benchmarking efforts.

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