Large Buildings Must Report Energy Use This Summer

Minneapolis hopes benchmark requirements will jumpstart energy efficiency updates.

Owners of commercial buildings 100,000 square feet and larger in Minneapolis will soon be required to submit their buildings’ energy use information to the city. 
Minneapolis adopted an energy benchmarking policy last year requiring both commercial and public buildings of certain square footage to disclose their energy usage. Recently, the city said it sent letters to owners and managers of more than 200 buildings with about 90 million combined square feet, which informed them that they must submit energy usage information by June 1.
The benchmark will include data not only on energy usage, but also carbon emissions and water usage as well as an “Energy Star” performance score that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed, and which takes into account individual property climates, occupancy, and operating hours.
In order to ease the reporting practice for building owners, the city is hosting workshops on April 24 and May 6, which will bring owners and experts together to walk through the new processes. There’s also a dedicated website and helpline to answer any questions.
Building owners who fail to report their energy usage by the deadline will be subject to fines and/or denial, suspension, or revocation of building licensure.
Commercial building owners will be required to submit data annually starting this summer. Next year, commercial buildings 50,000 square feet and larger will begin reporting as well. 
In November of last year, Minneapolis released a benchmark report of 102 publicly owned buildings in the city. The average Energy Star score for those buildings was 52 (on a scale of one to 100), two points above the national average.
The highest performing buildings were Century Plaza and the Health Services Building, both of which scored a 98. The lowest performers were four elementary schools, all of which scored a 30. The city believes if those 102 buildings all increase their efficiency, it will save taxpayers $2.5 million in energy costs every year. The city has set itself the goal of a 15 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by next year.
The new ordinance doesn’t require anyone to make improvements, but the city believes that getting a public nudge to retrofit and upgrade properties will eventually save them money year after year on energy costs.