On September 11, 2013 the Chicago City Council passed a Building Energy Use Benchmarking Ordinance that is aimed at the approximately 3500 commercial, residential and municipal buildings over 50,000 square feet, who according to the Chicago Tribune, account for up to 20% of the city’s energy consumption. Chicago joins eight other US cities and the states of Washington and California that currently require energy efficiency benchmarking. The ordinance is to be phased in over a three year period. Non-residential buildings over 250,000 square feet will be first required to report in June 2014 while non-residential buildings between 50,000 and 250,000 square feet will be required to report in June 2015. Residential buildings with more than 250,000 square feet will report on June 2015 and residential buildings between 50,000-250,000 square feet will report in June 2016. Public disclosure of the energy efficiency data will occur only one year after the compliance date.
The buildings are being required to track and verify their energy consumption (electricity, natural gas and water) using Portfolio Manager, the online tool administered by the Environmental Protection Agency. There have been mixed reactions to the ordinance. The Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) released a statement in opposition to the ordinance. “We believe that the public disclosure mandate in the proposed ordinance will unfairly penalize and marginalize many older and historically significant buildings in Chicago.” Not surprisingly, Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel was supportive saying “good data drives markets and innovation, this ordinance will accelerate Chicago’s growth as a capital for green jobs by arming building owners, real estate companies, energy service companies and others with the information they need to make smart, cost-saving investments.” While there certainly will be a period of adjustment, we see the largest take away from the ordinance being that it will ultimately increase the demand for innovative energy efficiency projects and the need for smarter metering and energy use optimization services.