Growing Number of Cities Pass Mandatory Reporting and Benchmarking Laws

Kansas City, MO, Atlanta, GA and Portland, OR became the three latest cities to pass mandatory energy reporting rules last week. On June 4, Kansas City's city council approved the "Energy Empowerment Ordinance" by a vote of 12-1, similar to policies passed by Atlanta and Portland in April.

The Bigger Picture

Energy compliance laws deliver big benefits—both to building owners and communities—but let’s face it, they can be a royal pain. Then why are more and more cities pushing for these regulations? As the Portland City Council noted:

  • Energy used to power buildings is often one of the largest sources of carbon pollution in a city.
  • Similar to a miles-per-gallon (MPG) rating for a car, the energy performance policy allows potential tenants and owners to have access to important information about building energy performance.
  • Commercial energy reporting policies in 12 other US cities have motivated investment in efficiency improvements that save money and reduce carbon emissions.

For building owners, the benefits are directly related to your bottom line. Benchmark ratings allow prospective tenants to compare properties on an apples-to-apples basis and make informed investment decisions. Plus, higher efficiency buildings command higher rent and compete more effectively in the effort to woo tenants.

These proven benefits means there is a lot of momentum, and while Atlanta and Portland are the two newest cities to adopt compliance requirements, many other cities are actively considering similar regulations.

For the latest information on which cities and states have benchmarking ordinances, this table is a great resource (and of course, subscribe to the EnergySMART blog!)

Eliminate the Headaches

There are a number of ways you can comply with mandatory benchmarking laws. The traditional approach has largely relied on manual data entry. It works, but it’s time consuming. Energy efficiency leaders like Equity Office have automated the reporting process for major benchmarking services like ENERGY STAR, and armed their building owners and managers with the information they need to improve those scores.

The Fast Facts About Kansas City, Atlanta, and Portland

Kansas City Energy Empowerment Ordinance

Why: Both cost savings and quality of living were key for Mayor Sly James in pushing the ordinance forward. Mayor James explained that, “Energy efficiency not only saves money; it helps improve the air we breathe, making Kansas City a better place to live."

What Building Owners Need to Know: Only municipal, commercial, and residential buildings over 50,000 square feet in size will be required to collect and report their energy and water use annually.

Buildings will be phased in starting in 2016, and by 2018 all buildings meeting size qualifications will be mandated to report. Reporting must be done using ENERGY STAR's Portfolio Manager.

Where Can You Find More Information: The city council hasn't yet published guidelines for participating buildings, but you can read the press release here.

Atlanta Commercial Buildings Energy Efficiency Ordinance

Why: According to the Mayor’s Office, “the ordinance aims to reduce the city’s energy footprint while creating jobs. The City projects that the ordinance will drive a 20% reduction in commercial energy consumption by 2030, spur the creation of more than 1,000 jobs a year in the first few years, and reduce carbon emissions by 50% from 2013 levels by 2030.”

What Building Owners Need to Know: The Ordinance only addresses energy use in private and city-owned buildings over 25,000 square feet in size. That's 2,350 buildings currently representing 80% of the city’s commercial sector.

Under the new ordinance, building owners are required to benchmark and report their properties’ energy use annually. Utilizing the data collected, building owners are required to complete an energy audit once every 10 years. Building performance data collected under the benchmarking initiative will be made transparent to the public to allow the market to recognize, reward, and drive increased demand for high-performing buildings.

Participating buildings will be phased in, beginning with municipal buildings in 2015 and expanding to include private buildings in 2016.

Where Can You Find More Information: Read the City’s press release, or check out the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability website.

Portland’s Energy Performance Reporting Policy

Why: According to Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, ““Portland has set a goal to cut carbon emissions 80% by 2050...Reducing energy use in buildings is a critical part of that picture. Tracking energy use and investing in energy efficiency saves money for the building owners. And for the city as a whole. Last year alone, the city saved $6 million on its own energy bills.”

What Building Owners Need to Know: The policy only requires buildings over 20,000 square feet to do the following:

  1. Track energy performance using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager.
  2. Calculate energy use intensity (energy use per square foot), an ENERGY STAR score, and carbon emissions.
  3. Report this information to the City annually.

The policy will cover offices, retail spaces, grocery stores, hotels, health care and higher education buildings. It does not include residential properties, nursing homes, places of worship, parking structures, K-12 schools, industrial facilities or warehouses.

The policy will cover nearly 80% of the commercial square footage and affect approximately 1,000 buildings.

Where You Can Find More Information: This website has the latest information building owners should be familiar with.

Authored By Sarah McAuley

Sarah's been bleeding Enel X blue since 2007 and currently serves as the Vice President of Marketing.

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