Local businesses that are taking steps to track and reduce greenhouse gas emissions were recognized Thursday night. Photo: Mark Coplan
Local businesses that are taking steps to track and reduce greenhouse gas emissions were recognized Thursday night. Photo: Mark Coplan

The city of Berkeley recognized more than two dozen local businesses Thursday night for their efforts to track and cut down on greenhouse gas emissions as part of the second annual Energy Smart Awards program.

Commercial buildings make up approximately 52% of Berkeley’s overall emissions, making reductions “an essential step for Berkeley as a whole to achieve the goals of the Climate Action Plan,” according to a statement released Friday by the city.

The plan was created by the city in 2006 and sets a target of a 33% reduction in emissions by 2020, followed by an 80% reduction by 2050.

Recipients of the 2014 Energy Smart Awards, who were congratulated Thursday night by Mayor Tom Bates and Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, account for approximately 150 buildings: most of the city’s grocery stores, a hospital and, for the first time, multi­-family housing units.

Participants in the program use an online tracker from PG&E to learn about building energy use and find ways to “save energy and money while making buildings more comfortable,” according to the city.

The software was developed by the EPA. It tracks energy use and gives buildings an energy efficiency score of 1-100 relative to other buildings of similar size. The scores, however, do not tell the full story, said city staff. The city will be working in the future on creating case studies to detail various innovation efforts and provide more context about good work being done around town in relation to efficiency measures.

This type of “benchmarking” is increasingly required by state law. As of Jan. 1, AB 1103 required owners of commercial buildings larger than 10,000 square feet to disclose energy use when they sell, refinance, or lease these properties. On July 1, the requirement cover even more commercial buildings, those larger than 5,000 square feet, according to the city.

City officials described the benchmarking as “a critical step” toward making Berkeley a more sustainable city.

Thursday night’s event was hosted by the East Bay Environmental Network and the Building Owners and Management Association of the East Bay, and included businesses and the mayors from the cities of Berkeley, Emeryville and Oakland. A map of the Energy Smart Award winners, including scores for some of the organizations, has been posted online.

Participating Berkeley businesses include: 2150 Shattuck & Beacon Ventures; Alta Bates Summit Medical Center; Bancroft Hotel; Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals; Berkeley Bowl; Berkeley Chamber of Commerce; Berkeley City College; Berkeley Unified School District; Berkwood Hedge School; City of Berkeley; David Brower Center; Double Tree Hotel; Ed Roberts Campus; Golden Bear Center­, UC Berkeley; Graduate Theological Union; Grocery Outlet­ Berkeley; Hotel Shattuck Plaza; Lawrence Berkeley National Lab; LJ Kruse Company; Meyer Sound Laboratories; Resources for Community Development; Safeway­ Berkeley; Sawtooth Building; Shotgun Players­ Ashby Stage; Square One Management; Wareham Development; Wells Fargo Building & Bollibokka Shattuck, LLC; Whole Foods Market­ Berkeley; and the YMCA Teen Center.

For more information, visit http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/benchmarking_buildings. See photographs from the awards ceremony by Mark Coplan. 

Berkeley greenhouse gas emissions down 8% since 2000 (09.06.13)
Streamlined permitting aims to cut solar costs (08.07.13)
Big changes needed to meet 2020 emissions goals (11.13.12)
Bayer unveils Berkeley’s largest solar installation (05.30.12)
Measuring a Berkeleyan carbon footprint (04.19.11)
More homes in Berkeley but energy use is down (12.16.11)
Berkeley’s climate progress seen (sort of) (02.17.10)

Emilie Raguso (former senior editor, news) joined Berkeleyside in 2012 and covered politics, public safety and development until her departure in 2022. In 2017, Emilie was named Journalist of the Year...