Earlier this month, City of Minneapolis councilmembers passed a historic, city-wide ordinance requiring multifamily building owners to better track energy usage in their buildings, and also calling for home sellers and landlords to provide prospective buyers and renters access to energy information—before they decide to move in.
The ordinance builds on an existing commercial building benchmarking program and expands the program to now encompass multi-family buildings over 50,000 square feet. It also requires owners of individually metered apartment buildings to submit energy usage data to an online portal and provide prospective renters with a disclosure containing average monthly utility costs for the property prior to signing a lease. Fresh Energy sees these disclosures as an important step in advancing equity in Minneapolis as renters will now receive clearer information on the energy usage and utility costs of their respective unit. As roughly 46% of Twin Cities renters are cost-burdened by increasing rents, receiving upfront data on expected monthly energy costs provides these renters greater financial transparency, allowing them to compare units and make more informed rental decisions.
The ordinance also adds new requirements to Truth in Sale of Housing inspection reports received by homebuyers. The reports will now include items like insulation levels, heating systems, and windows. Potential buyers will also have access to an energy score of the home they are seeking to buy and a list of suggested upgrades—allowing for more clarity in the home buying process.
The new ordinance is also a win for the climate. Minneapolis and the state of Minnesota are on a path to aggressively reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to get there, we need energy efficiency. Homes and apartments currently represent about a fifth of citywide emissions and are a critical sector of the energy economy to decarbonize. Fresh Energy’s Director of Energy Access and Equity, Ben Passer, senior policy associate Ben Rabe, and policy associate Janiece Watts played a critical role in ensuring the energy disclosure moved forward. The three participated in a City-led stakeholder group to refine the ordinance, and testified in front of the Public Health, Environment, Civil Rights, and Engagement Committee of the Minneapolis City Council.
Fresh Energy was pleased to support this important suite of energy disclosure policies throughout the process, and we look forward to continued collaboration with the City of Minneapolis and partners as these policies are implemented.