edlee_swornin.jpgSan Francisco Mayor Ed Lee signed new legislation today that experts hope will lead to a 50 percent reduction in commercial building energy use within 20 years.

The new law, Chapter 20 of the San Francisco Environment Code, will require non-residential building owners to determine their energy use and file the results annually, according to the mayor’s office.

The code will also require building owners to conduct energy audits for commercial properties that are larger than 50,000 square feet, eventually expanding to include all commercial properties larger than 10,000 square feet by 2013, officials said.

Buildings account for 70 percent of the electricity consumed in the U.S., and energy is one of the biggest expenses involved in owning a building, officials from the mayor’s office said.

“This new green building code will educate building owners about what they need to do to save energy and money, and boost our local green economy,” Lee said in a statement.

The new law codifies recommendations made by former Mayor Gavin Newsom’s Task Force on Existing Commercial Buildings, which convened in 2009 to identify ways the government could work with the private sector to improve the energy efficiency of existing commercial buildings.

San Francisco already offers energy efficiency audits through its Energy Watch program and found that 70 percent of businesses that were audited took action, city officials said.

Erika Heidecker, Bay City News

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