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Large Buildings Achieve High Compliance with Building Tune-Ups Requirement

After more than two years of the new Building Tune-Ups policy, the largest buildings have achieved over 97% compliance. Congratulations! The first two ‘cohorts’ of buildings – Cohort 1 (200,000+ SF) and Cohort 2 (100,000-199,999 SF) – have completed 330 tune-ups to date, reducing greenhouse gas emissions across the city and saving money on their energy bills.

Building Tune-Ups optimize energy and water performance by identifying low- or no-cost actions related to building operations and maintenance. When done properly, tune-ups can generate 10-15% in energy savings and contribute to our climate goals. Tune-ups are required every five years for non-residential buildings 50,000 square feet or larger in the City of Seattle.

HVAC Operations Dominate Commonly Found Deficiencies

Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) measures dominate the most commonly found deficiencies, for both required and voluntary actions (see below). HVAC set point fixes were identified and made in nearly half of all buildings above 100,000 SF to date. Tune-Up Specialists identified HVAC control issues or sensors that were uncalibrated, not functioning, or located inappropriately in 43% of the buildings tuned-up.

Voluntary Actions Uncover Additional Opportunities to Save

Of the most commonly identified voluntary actions, inefficient lighting equipment was identified in 47% of buildings assessed, with approximately 13% of all buildings voluntarily taking action to improve the efficiency of lighting during or after the tune-up. The second most common voluntary correction identified was the presence of equipment reaching the end of its service life, found in 44% of the approved tune-ups and acted upon in 7% of buildings. These voluntary actions represent opportunities for buildings to achieve deeper energy, carbon, and cost savings.

Smaller Building Deadlines Approaching

Owners of smaller buildings must meet the new Tune-Up mandate, April 1, 2021 for Cohort 3 buildings (70,000 to 99,999 GSF) and October 1, 2021 for Cohort 4 buildings (50,000 to 69,999 GSF). In addition to saving energy and water, conducting a Tune-Up can also help with preparing your building for operation during and/or after the COVID-19 pandemic.

All work associated with a Building Tune-Up must be done by a qualified Tune-Up Specialist, the experienced professionals responsible for conducting the building assessment, identifying required Tune-Up actions, performing those actions, verifying the work is done correctly, and submitting a report to the City. The Northwest Energy Efficiency Council (NEEC) has a directory of qualified Tune-Ups Specialists. This is a great resource for obtaining tune-up bids.

Compliance takes time, often between 6 and 12 months. Owners are encouraged to get started now to ensure there is adequate time to complete the on-site building assessment and follow through on required corrective actions.