Large commercial buildings to report energy and water use starting in 2014

Beginning in 2014, large commercial buildings in Minneapolis must report energy and water use annually to comply with a new ordinance City leaders approved today intended to increase energy awareness. 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.

The City of Minneapolis and other public entities will lead by example and 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 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’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, and the training is made possible by a grant from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. 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.

Cities that already have this requirement include Austin, Texas; Boulder, Colo.; New York; Philadelphia; San Francisco; Seattle and Washington, D.C.

Visit the City's website for more information including the complete ordinance.

Published Feb. 8, 2013