The City of Philadelphia is raising the bar for better environmental and energy efficiency standards in all newly constructed and renovated City buildings. In an bill introduced by Councilmember (At-Large) Katherine Gilmore Richardson and passed unanimously on Dec. 9, the City will require that municipal construction and renovation projects that begin the design process after July 1, 2023 (fiscal year 2024) meet the requirements of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification, improving on the previous requirement that projects can achieve LEED Silver certification. The LEED rating system, developed by the U. S. Green Building Council, is a world recognized high-performing building certification. The ordinance also replaces the Philadelphia City Planning Commission with the Office of Sustainability as the regulatory authority.
“We’re grateful to Councilwoman Gilmore Richardson for her leadership in introducing this update to this landmark legislation,” said Christine Knapp, Director of the Office of Sustainability, following the bill’s introduction on Oct. 28. “With 72 percent of local greenhouse gas emissions coming from the built environment, we know it is critical that we slash emissions from buildings. The City strives to lead by example on climate action, and so it only makes sense that we continue to push our ambitions further by ensuring new or greatly renovated City buildings be able to achieve LEED Gold status.”
The Office of Sustainability will be creating the regulations associated to this ordinance which will:
- Specify the version of the LEED rating system that project teams should be using.
- Point to credits project teams should be aiming for, specifically energy-related credits.
- Define alternative standards or exemption paths to ensure buildings are still high performing and align with the City’s climate goals.
The ordinance update coincides with news that the 2nd Police District Office became the third municipal building to achieve a LEED Gold certification after the aging building underwent major renovations that included installing a new highly efficient, high-performance HVAC system and using low-emitting materials to improve indoor air quality. Six municipal buildings have achieved a LEED Silver or Gold certification since the City enacted the first LEED ordinance in 2009.
With the new LEED requirement in place, the City will be better positioned to meet ambitious climate and energy goals outlined in the Municipal Energy Master Plan, clearing a path toward a lower carbon footprint as well as critical energy and utility cost savings over time.