The City of Chicago released the first set of aggregate building energy-use data collected under its Building Energy Use Benchmarking Ordinance, which required commercial and municipal buildings in Chicago over 250,000 square feet in size to measure, verify and report their energy use to the city by June 1, 2014. The report examines collective 2013 energy-use data from 348 buildings representing 260 million square feet of space and approximately 11 percent of citywide energy use.
The report revealed that reducing energy intensity of reporting buildings could reduce the buildings’ energy use up to 23 percent, and these reductions could reap between $44 million and $77 million in energy cost savings. Chicagoans currently spend $3 billion a year to heat, cool and operate their buildings.
Overall, the buildings required to report in 2014 had a median Energy Star score above national averages and were in line with comparable buildings in other major US markets such as New York City and Washington DC.
Much of the energy these buildings use, however, is wasted.
More than 85 energy, real estate, business and public interest organizations supported the adoption of Chicago’s benchmarking ordinance, and many of these organizations have continued to partner with the city to support implementation of the ordinance.
The city and its partners will now move into the second phase of implementation, requiring large residential buildings over 250,000 square feet and commercial buildings between 50,000 and 250,000 square feet to report their energy use by June 1, 2015.
Chicago is currently participating in the City Energy Project, a joint initiative of the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) that aims to improve the energy efficiency of buildings in 10 major American cities. Other participants include Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Orlando, Philadelphia and Salt Lake City.
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