Chicago to Require Benchmarking in Larger Commercial Buildings

Chicago-jun27Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has proposed an ordinance that would require the city’s largest buildings to benchmark their energy use, and authorize the city to disclose the energy efficiency for these buildings publicly.

Under the proposed ordinance, about 3,500 commercial, residential, and municipal buildings measuring more than 50,000 square feet would be required to track and verify energy consumption using the EPA’s Portfolio Manager, a free web-based tool. The buildings would report energy-use data to the city each year through an automated process, the mayor’s office said.

The ordinance also would require that buildings have their data verified by a licensed architect, engineer or other city-recognized professional every three years.

The goal of the ordinance is to develop the local market for energy efficiency by encouraging building owners to make improvements, which would create growth opportunities for energy service companies and contractors. Chicago’s plan is backed by a coalition of more than 80 organizations from real estate, energy, and environmental communities that support the measure because of its potential to grow Chicago’s energy efficiency market, the city said.

The city would publish an annual report on energy efficiency and publicly disclose individual building energy performance, starting in June 2015, the city said.

The proposed ordinance excludes industrial facilities, storage units, and hazardous use units, and it contains exemptions for brand new construction or buildings facing financial distress. Consumption data would not be disclosed publicly for buildings with more than 10 percent of floor space dedicated to data centers, TV studios, or trading floors.

Among its other sustainability programs, in March, Building Owners and Managers Association in Chicago (BOMA) started a smart meter pilot program, which up to 40 BOMA/Chicago member buildings in downtown Chicago will be able to participate in. For the pilot, advanced meters will be installed in all participating buildings to record electricity usage in one-second intervals.

Chicago would join a growing number of cities that have adopted energy benchmarking policies for large commercial buildings, including Minneapolis, New York City, and Seattle.

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