Building Performance Standard

Climate Solution #4

Create Building Performance Standards to make Dallas’ existing buildings zero emission.

How it works

Buildings are a huge source of pollution and climate emissions — they account for 40% of US energy consumption and 31% of greenhouse gas emissions!

Fortunately, city governments have a lot of control over buildings-related policies, and this is a major area where Dallas can make an impact on climate change.

A key tool for reducing pollution from buildings is called a “Building Energy Performance Standard.” Basically, it’s a tool that requires existing buildings to reduce emissions and be more efficient about how they use energy, water, and other resources. In Dallas, the standards would require existing buildings to baseline their emissions relative to similar buildings per Energy Star benchmarking standards, then reduce carbon emissions from electricity and onsite fossil fuel usage. Cities like Washington D.C., Boston, New York City, and others have adopted or are in the process of implementing these standards.

Here’s how building performance standards work:

First, the city requires all large commercial and residential buildings (10,000 square feet and up) to benchmark and disclose how much energy they use and the greenhouse gas emissions they create. This process should take 1-2 years.

Second, the city create a standard for buildings to improve. Once you know how different buildings are performing, then you require large buildings to meet strict GHG emissions limits and ratchet up the limits over time, with a goal of reducing emissions 100% by 2050 or sooner. 

The building performance standard should vary based on the types of buildings, and most cities give building owners five years to make upgrades to comply with the first set of standards. The city implements rebate programs, incentives, and low-cost financing for updates and retrofits as well as education programs for building owners. It’s essential to provide funding and incentives for low-income buildings.

Reducing pollution from buildings is crucial for addressing climate change and creating a healthier, more resilient Dallas!

Where Dallas’ Climate Plan Falls Short

  • Dallas’ Climate Action Plan calls for tracking emissions from buildings, but doesn’t create requirements for buildings to reduce emissions
  • In other words, the plan tracks the problem but doesn’t propose a real solution or act quickly enough.