Benchmarking Growth Continues

benchmarkThe latest city to announce an energy benchmarking program is St. Louis. The St. Louis Post Dispatch reported last week that the Board of Aldermen unanimously approved a bill that mandates the practice. The story says that most of the buildings covered are in the downtown sector, which is Ward 7. The alderman from that ward sponsored the move and told the site that many owners of the buildings are receptive to the measure.

The advantages of benchmarking are becoming clear to an increasing percentage of building owners. “More buildings are benchmarking their energy use now than ever before,’ wrote Caroline Keicher, the Associate Director of Building Energy Performance Policy for the Institute for Market Transformation. “As of December 2015, 40 billion square feet of commercial floor space across 450,000 buildings — nearly half of commercial floor space in the U.S. — has been benchmarked using U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager tool, more than twice what it was in 2010.” Keicher responded to questions emailed to IMT last month.

City buildings will report in the first year of the project. Privately owned structures will follow in the next reporting year, the story says. Separately, St. Louis was selected last November to participate in the City Energy Project, an initiative that can include benchmarking.

The Energy Collective, in a post on January 31, noted the spike in benchmarking. The organization notes that during the past few months, Denver; Evanston, IL; Los Angeles; Orlando and Pittsburgh all passed benchmarking policies. The cities added 1.4 billion square feet of space to bring the total space under benchmarking and transparency rules to 10.7 billion square feet nationwide.

Another sign that benchmarking is catching on is that not all the municipalities involved are large. This week, the small city of Kingston, N.Y. was designated a “Clean Energy Community” by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. The city completed four of 10 high impact clean actions. One of these was benchmarking for some municipal buildings.

The designation allows Kingston to apply for as much as $100,000 for other clean energy projects, with no cost sharing requirement on the part of the community.

Keicher noted the increase in interested. She pointed to Los Angeles, Denver, Pittsburgh and Orlando as major cities that recently have passed benchmarking ordinances. They all are members of the City Energy Project, a joint initiative of the IMT and the Natural Resources Defense Council. She wrote that the number of cities with such ordinances in place rose from five in 2011 to 22 at the end of last year.

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