Theses Master's

Policy Approaches to Energy Use Reduction in Tenant Spaces

Ossey, Lauren

A significant focus of climate policy in the United States is on energy use in buildings because buildings account for approximately 40% of GHG emissions nationwide. Many local governments have created policies that regulate energy use in buildings but tenant spaces are often excluded from these efforts. Untapped potential exists to reduce energy use within building tenant spaces, which can account for up to 50% of a building’s energy use. In order to reach the aggressive GHG emission reduction goals set by scientists and governments in order to avoid the most harmful effects of climate change, all possible avenues of energy reduction are of interest. However, there is no clear understanding of how local governments are attempting to reduce energy usage in tenant spaces.
The aim of this research was to understand the approaches that local governments have used to influence energy use in tenant spaces through both mandatory policies and voluntary programs. Additionally, this research aimed to understand the impetus and barriers to policy creation and implementation regarding private tenant spaces. This study utilized two research methods: 1) review of policy documents and 2) interviews with selected city officials and industry experts. The research focused on cities participating in the C40 program, specifically within the Private Building Efficiency Network.
Detailed policy maps provide an overview of approaches taken and highlight where opportunity exists for innovative, new policy types. Few mandatory policies were found within sampled cities. Most cities provide a multitude of programs that foster the voluntary reduction of energy use in tenant spaces by providing resources and incentives to tenants. The most common of these programs is providing educational resources and green leasing assistance. While there is consensus among experts and city representatives that reducing tenant use is a common and complex problem, there is no consensus as to how government can best respond to this issue. Many barriers exist in creating and implementing such policies and programs leading most governments to focus on other aspects of building energy use or relying on voluntary programs.
Knowledge sharing between cities is a particularly valuable tool when lessons are paired with an understanding of city-specific barriers and opportunities. This approach enables policy makers to craft effective policies and programs to address the largely untapped potential that exists to reduce energy use within building tenant spaces.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
Thesis Advisors
Beauregard, Robert
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
June 25, 2017