Toolkit helps cities calculate benefits of renovation, plan recovery

06 May 2020

Thousands of jobs, slashed emissions, millions in energy cost savings. A new toolkit, developed by C40 Cities with support from ROCKWOOL Group, enables cities to quantify the various benefits of large-scale renovation projects.

Building, construction, commercial, outdoors, city, skyline, aerial, New York City

How many jobs will a large-scale building retrofit project in New York create? What would the energy savings be for a similar project in Milan? How would better building standards affect the health, wellbeing and productivity of an area’s residents?

These are the kinds of questions cities like Copenhagen, New York and Milan are already investigating with the help of a report developed by C40 Cities with support from ROCKWOOL.

And as all communities around the world look ahead to recovery after COVID-19, the report, The Multiple Benefits of Deep Retrofits: A toolkit for cities, (also available in Chinese) aims to help them better understand and quantify the wide range of economic, social and environmental benefits that come with large-scale energy retrofits.

It provides the kind of details needed to make better policy choices and show stakeholders that, despite the upfront costs, the business case for retrofitting buildings is stronger than ever. 

New York, Copenhagen and Milan test the toolkit

New York, for example, is a city with over one million buildings that collectively account for 67 percent of the city’s emissions. Since many of these buildings will still be standing in 2050, retrofitting them would help the city achieve the targets set out in its climate action plan and Climate Mobilization Act.

In a pilot of the toolkit, New York focused on 23 public schools with high emissions to get an idea of the kind of impact deep energy retrofits could have. With a program of retrofits that could include insulation, HVAC, lighting, solar PV and other options for the 23 schools, the estimated benefits from the retrofits include, among other things:

  • a 42 percent reduction in GHG emissions
  • a 42 percent reduction in energy costs per year
  • More than 1000 full-time jobs

These findings will enable the city to make a stronger case for investment in retrofitting across this building stock. Energy auditors are currently making recommendations and deep energy retrofit projects are expected to begin in 2021.

From the report: “Expanding the narrative around the benefits of reducing energy use is a key component to motivating people to change their thinking about the interaction of energy and the environment. This study expands the narrative to resonate with a great many more people, which is critical to avoiding the most catastrophic impacts of climate change”, says Anthony J. Fiore, Deputy Commissioner, Energy Management and Chief Energy Management Officer, NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services.