Minneapolis, Minn. officials have approved a city ordinance intended to increase energy awareness that requires large commercial buildings to report energy and water use annually, beginning in 2014.
This makes Minneapolis the first Midwest city to adopt an energy benchmarking and disclosure rule for commercial buildings.
The city says the ordinance is a tool that uses market forces, rather than performance or design mandates, to motivate owners and tenants to invest in efficiency improvements, ultimately saving energy, lowering energy costs, reducing pollution and spurring local green jobs.
Commercial buildings account for roughly 35 percent of greenhouse gas pollution in Minneapolis, according to the city.
City buildings and other public entities will begin publicly disclosing energy and water use in their buildings larger than 25,000 square feet starting in 2013. Private commercial buildings larger than 100,000 square feet will begin reporting June 1, 2014, and publicly disclosing in 2015, and private commercial buildings larger than 50,000 square feet will begin reporting June 1, 2015, and publicly disclosing in 2016.
The required free software, the EPA’s Portfolio Manager, measures the building’s energy and water performance and generates a score and other metrics, similar to a fuel economy rating on a vehicle. The system takes into account such information as building age, operating hours, workers per square foot, occupancy rates and space usage. (Scoring models assume buildings with higher intensities of activities use more energy; more intense uses do not necessarily result in lower scores.)
The city will partner with the Center for Energy and Environment to offer training for building owners starting in early 2014, before the first reporting deadline. The Center for Energy and Environment is a nonprofit that specializes in commercial energy efficiency solutions.
A city website will guide building owners and managers through what is needed to comply and how to use the required software. While the city does not require energy efficiency improvements, it will guide building owners toward rebates and loans for retrofits.