Philadelphia is one of the pioneering ten cities involved in The City Energy Project, a national initiative led by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT) that aims to improve energy efficiency of buildings in order to create healthier and more prosperous cities.  Under these regulations, each large commercial building is required to report its previous year’s energy usage, a process known as “energy benchmarking”.

Philadelphia began energy benchmarking for all large buildings in 2013.  The City of Philadelphia Mayor’s Office of Sustainability (MOS) released the data to the public via GitHub in fall 2014.  In an effort to make these results easy for everyone to explore and visualize, MOS worked with Azavea to build the Building Energy Benchmarking visualization tool.

In addition to releasing the data, MOS agreed to release the software under an open source license, making it possible for other cities to potentially use the visualization tools for their own data.  The software includes maps, charts and statistics.  Using the map, it is possible to hone in on a region of interest and view energy usage statistics of individual buildings.  There are many different ways to filter, classify, and size the displayed buildings by tweaking a variety of variables.  Once a building of interest is selected, a full energy use report can be pulled up, which displays how the building ranks among all others.  A comparison tool is also available for side-by-side comparisons of up to three buildings.