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What is the Philadelphia 2030 District?

The Philadelphia 2030 District is a private/public partnership that brings together property owners and managers, utilities and energy services companies, and community organizations to achieve substantial reductions in energy and water use, and transportation emissions by the year 2030.

Why start the initiative in Philadelphia?

Buildings are the primary driver of climate change in our region. In Philadelphia, 60 percent of the carbon emissions that cause climate change come from the building sector and an average commercial building wastes 30 percent of its energy. Making improvements to our built environment represents the best chance we have to reduce our region’s climate impact and save money.

Who can participate and how?

Property Partners:

  • Building owners/managers that commit property to the district
  • Must comprise at least 40% of district participants
  • No limit to number of participants

Resource Partners:

  • Utilities and energy services companies
  • Provide expertise and deliver services to district
  • Sponsor the district
  • May not have property to commit to district

Community Partners

  • Nonprofits, civic organizations, government
  • Provide expertise and support for the district as needed
  • May not have property to commit to district
  • Limited number of participants

What are the benefits of participation for property partners?

Owners and managers who commit their properties to the 2030 District’s goals can realize cost savings while also lessening their environmental impact by assessing, tracking, and improving upon energy efficiency, water use, and transportation emissions. Participating property owners and managers gain access to a network of peers to share strategies and best practices, and to tools and resources to improve upon the performance of and add value to their assets, including financing information, aggregate building performance data, and building operator trainings.

What’s more, a Philadelphia 2030 District is an opportunity for voluntary, private sector leadership in demonstrating the value of high performing, cost-effective buildings. By having a delineated boundary around the district, properties within the catchment can use this innovation zone as a marketing tool to attract tenants and demonstrate a commitment to sustainability.

How is progress measured and reported? Is there a penalty for individual buildings that do not meet their goals?

Property partners share their ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager accounts for each of their committed properties as well as transportation data with Green Building United.

Progress toward the district goals will be measured and reported in the aggregate but property partners will receive an individual report to track their progress toward the goals. Individual building energy/water use and transportation data will not be released independent of aggregated district totals without the expressed permission of the property partner.

There is no penalty should an individual property not meet its goals but we hope and expect that the opportunity for consistent peer learning and exchange of best practices will improve overall district performance.

What are the specific goals of the district?

The program targets a 50% reduction in building energy use, water consumption and transportation GHG emissions. For more on these metrics and their underlying baselines, visit our page on meeting the goals.

Are the reduction targets for new buildings, or can existing buildings participate too?

The 2030 District has different reduction target specifications for new constructions, major renovations and existing buildings, outlined in the graphics below.

What are the district boundaries?

Recruitment for the district will focus where there is a concentration of large, already-benchmarked buildings in Center and University City. This limited geographic area will allow the district to focus its efforts on the largest commercial buildings that use the most energy and are the largest contributors to the city’s carbon emissions.

(Approximate boundaries: N – Spring Garden Street and Powelton Ave, S – Walnut Street, W – 40th Street, E – Interstate 95)

As the district develops there will be opportunities to expand the footprint of the district and to recruit smaller commercial buildings.

Why does the district track site EUI as opposed to source EUI?

National media site EUI was selected over source EUI as the standard energy baseline of choice, as the initiative was built off of the 2030 Challenge, which was created to address new construction and major retrofits. Site EUI was chosen in order to start with an analysis of an energy use measure that architectural choices can influence – the intended energy performance by using site EUI baseline for the design work of firms committed to reaching the new construction goal with their portfolios.

The Philadelphia 2030 District will also use site EUI as its baseline to be in alignment with the other 21 cities participating in the initiative.

That said, while source EUI is a better indicator of a building’s carbon footprint, access to Portfolio Manager will still allow the Philadelphia 2030 District to calculate and report reduction in GHG emissions as a result of energy reduction efforts.

How does renewable energy factor into the 2030 Challenge?

The 2030 Challenge specifies that all new buildings, developments, and major renovations shall be carbon-neutral by 2030.

The 2030 Challenge allows for 20% of the required reduction to come from purchasing renewable energy and/or certified renewable energy credits. (Again, the goal is carbon neutrality, not net-zero energy.) The rest of the reduction should be pursued first through energy-efficient design and secondly through on-site technology, including on-site renewable energy.

Utility renewable energy and/or renewable energy credits can be used for the rest of the project’s power but only 20% of the reduction can be counted towards meeting the 2030 Challenge targets.

How is the Philadelphia 2030 District related to or different from Architecture 2030, the AIA 2030 Commitment and other 2030 Districts around the United States?

The year 2030 is widely considered as the decisive deadline for achieving a carbon-free society in order to mitigate catastrophic climate change.  In response to this crisis, the non-profit organization, Architecture 2030, was founded by Edward Mazria in 2002. This organization put forth the 2030 Challenge, a set of defined performance targets that incrementally step down carbon emissions from the built environment to zero emissions in the year 2030. To support this challenge, other organizations, such as the American Institute of Architects (AIA) have used these targets as the framework for programs such as the AIA’s 2030 Commitment.  2030 Districts across the United States may vary in approach, however, they all establish performance goals based on the 2030 Challenge for Planning.

2030 Districts Network