St. Louis to Benchmark Energy Use in Commercial Buildings

The St. Louis’ Board of Aldermen unanimously approved a bill (Board Bill No. 205) on February 1 that establishes an energy monitoring, or “benchmarking,” requirement for certain commercial properties.

The bulk of the large commercial buildings that will be affected by the ordinance are in Ward 7, which includes much of downtown, according to a February 2 report by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The sponsor of the measure, Alderman Jack Coatar (7th Ward) told the local news outlet that building managers were largely receptive to the measure, since many already are taking steps to trim electricity consumption and increase energy efficiency.

In November, St. Louis became one of 20 cities nationwide to be selected for the benchmarking initiative, known as the City Energy Project. – a joint initiative of the Natural Resources Defense Council and The Institute for Market Transformation.

The project is described by its sponsors as “a united effort to address their largest source of energy use and climate pollution: buildings. By the year 2030, the 20 participating cities have the power to achieve significant collective impact by taking action at the local level, with the potential to save more than $1.5 billion annually in energy bills and reduce carbon pollution by more than 9.6 million metric tons, equivalent to taking 2 million cars off the road for a year.”

Other current members include De Moines, Fort Collins, Miami, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Providence, Reno, San Jose, and St. Paul.

The project provides both the funding and technical support for tracking energy usage in large buildings, giving them the tools to save power and money.

Coatar told the Post-Dispatch that privately owned buildings would join in the second year of the effort. He said he does not envision the program eventually being expanded to other types of buildings, such as residential sites.

Ashok Gupta, a Kansas City-based senior energy economist for the NRDC, was surprised by how quickly the city has put the project into play. “I can’t believe this bill passed as quickly as it did,” Gupta said. “I don’t think any other city has passed it this fast.”

Gupta told the local news outlet that the project would help connect any “poor performers” with utility rebate programs for improving efficiency or Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing.

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