The Greater Cincinnati Green Business Council has released its Energy Benchmarking Toolkit, a guide to help small and medium-sized businesses reduce energy expenses at their facilities and improve environmental performance that shows a way that smaller cities can get in on the energy benchmarking game.
The toolkit explains benchmarking and its benefits and introduces the EPA’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager, a free web-based energy management tool that helps track and assess energy and water consumption for facilities. By identifying the relative energy performance of its buildings, organizations can develop strategies and allocate resources to under-performing buildings. The Toolkit also provides information about local, state and federal incentives and rebates that help organizations implement energy efficiency projects, such as lighting retrofits or HVAC upgrades.
The toolkit also explains that high performing facilities can qualify for Energy Star certification, earning the prestigious Energy Star label for their building. In 2012 the EPA ranked Cincinnati 13th among US cities for its number of Energy Star-certified buildings, with 137 buildings totaling 21.1 million square feet of space.
Energy benchmarking projects have recently been introduced by larger cities including Washington DC and Chicago.
DC published final regulations to implement a new requirement that all large private buildings benchmark their energy and water performance annually in January. The regulations require owners to evaluate and report the energy and water efficiency of their buildings. Pursuant to the Clean and Affordable Energy Act, owners of buildings over 100,000 square feet must report their 2012 energy and water use to the District Department of the Environment by April 1, 2013.
In September, the Chicago City Council passed the energy use benchmarking measure proposed by Mayor Rahm Emanual earlier this year. The new law requires owners of commercial, residential, and municipal buildings over 50,000 square feet to track and verify energy consumption using the EPA’s Portfolio Manager, starting in 2014. The information about individual buildings will be publicly available starting in 2015.