We recently wrote that Minneapolis was considering an ordinance that would require large commercial buildings to report and publicly disclose their energy and water consumption. On February 8, the Minneapolis City Council unanimously voted to pass the ordinance, making it the first Midwestern city to adopt such a policy. New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Austin, Boulder, and Washington, D.C. already have similar requirements.
With commercial buildings accounting for roughly 35 percent of carbon pollution in Minneapolis, the ordinance will help the city and Minnesota meet carbon reduction goals. It will also save money for businesses and building owners and create local jobs.
Benchmarking and disclosure are proven ways to help buildings identify opportunities for improving energy efficiency. A study of 35,000 buildings using the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager—the same tool that Minneapolis will now be using—demonstrated that benchmarking alone saved a total average of seven percent in energy over three years. A recent analysis revealed that 51 percent of energy efficiency opportunities could be achieved through low- and no-cost operational improvements, most often identified after participating in a benchmarking program. Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minneapolis Public Schools, and the Minneapolis Park Board will be the first to participate in the program, benchmarking buildings larger than 25,000 square feet by June 2013. Private commercial buildings larger than 100,000 square feet will begin reporting June 1, 2014 and publicly disclosing the results in 2015. Private commercial buildings larger than 50,000 square feet will begin reporting June 1, 2015 and publicly disclosing energy use in 2016.
Photo: Justin from Minneapolis, MN (Minneapolis from the North at Dusk) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons