Building Tune-Ups 101

By LeAnne Harvey

Posted October 19, 2021


Commercial building energy use accounts for more than 15% of Philadelphia’s GHG emissions. To meet Mayor Kenney’s recent goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, we must reduce emissions from all sources, including our built environment. The Building Energy Performance Program, also referred to as “Building Tune-ups”, is designed to advance the savings found through the Philadelphia Building Energy Benchmarking Program by turning energy performance knowledge into action.

A building tune-up is a review of energy systems, controls, and maintenance practices, along with minor tweaks to bring them up to a good state of performance. On average, these tweaks result in 10– 15% annual energy savings for a building. These energy savings are seen via cost savings  and also provide a more comfortable space for tenants.

All non-residential buildings with indoor floor space of at least 50,000 square feet (including but not limited to mixed-use buildings with nonresidential use greater than 50,000 sq. ft.; industrial and manufacturing facilities; and temporary lodgings) are required to comply with this program.

To help building owners and managers better understand the program, we've broken it down into a step-by-step process to comply.


Steps to Compliance

1. Identify compliance year

Compliance deadlines are based on the size of the building and compliance is required every 5 years*:

  • 2022*: Buildings with 100,000 sq. ft. or more
  • 2023: Buildings with 70,000 sq. ft to 99,999 sq. ft.
  • 2024: Buildings with 50,000 sq. ft. to 69,999 sq. ft.

*Due to Covid-19, there was a one-year delay for buildings over 200,000 sq. ft., however, they will be required to conduct a second Tune-up on the original compliance timeline (2026). View the full compliance timeline.


2. Determine which compliance pathway is appropriate for your building

This program is flexible, allowing buildings to comply by demonstrating recently conducted retrofits or recommissioning efforts. There is long list of compliance pathways available so building owners can choose what’s best for their buildings. These range from energy audits to Zero Energy Certification to a proven 15% energy reduction. If a building does not meet one of the High Performance Pathways, they will need to conduct a Building Tune-up.

High Performance Pathway and Exemption Deadline : April 4

Building Tune-Up Deadline: September 30


3. Engage with a Tune-up Specialist

A Tune-Up Specialist is a person qualified to conduct a Tune-up, identify required tune-up actions, perform tune-up actions and/or verify that tune-up actions were completed, and submit the Tune-up Workbook to the City of Philadelphia. If your building has a regular maintenance contract, they might be qualified to conduct a Tune-Up. You can use The Hub to search for qualified Tune-Up Specialists in our region.


4. Plan out your timeline

The Tune-up process consists of 1) an assessment of the building and its systems, 2) completing corrective actions to resolve issues identified during the assessment, and 3) a final review and submission. Close coordination is required between the Building Owner and the Tune-up Specialist to ensure that everything is completed by the compliance deadline.


5. Tune-up Specialist completes assessment

The Tune-up Specialist will use the City-issued Tune-up Report Workbook to inspect elements relating to Maintenance & Repairs, HVAC, Lighting, Domestic Hot Water & Water, and the Building Envelope. After this initial assessment, the Tune-up Specialist will provide the Building Owner a report of their findings. You can find a copy of the Tune-up Workbook and instructions here: Building Energy Performance Program workbooks and documents | Office of Sustainability | City of Philadelphia


6. Building owner completes corrective actions

Following the initial assessment, the Specialist will have identified corrective actions. The Building Owner must then decide to complete the corrective actions using in-house staff, existing contracted service providers, or the Tune-up Specialist.


7. Tune-up Specialist verifies actions and submits report to the City

Once the corrective actions are completed, the Tune-up Specialist must verify the work and ensure it fulfills the assessment recommendations. The Specialist must then submit the Tune-up Workbook to the Office of Sustainability.


For more information on the program, please visit: Building Energy Performance Program | Programs and initiatives | City of Philadelphia



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