Benchmarking Laws Spread Across the Country

Sept. 4, 2013
Chicago is the latest city to consider an ordinance.

Energy audits and benchmarking are already required every 10 years in New York City, and Chicago may be the most recent city to follow NYC’s lead.

Large buildings in Chicago may be required to benchmark and report their energy use if Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s proposed ordinance is approved by the City Council.

The ordinance would mandate that approximately 3,500 commercial, residential, and municipal buildings over 50,000 square feet track and verify their energy consumption using ENERGY STAR’s Portfolio Manager, which is used by many of the eight cities and two states that require large buildings to benchmark and trend energy use.

Buildings affected by this ordinance would automatically submit data to the city annually and would also need to have the data verified by a city-approved professional every three years. The city would publish the data in an annual energy efficiency report and could also publicly disclose the performance of individual buildings a year after the compliance date.

However, the reporting requirement would be phased in, with commercial and municipal buildings over 250,000 square feet required to start reporting in June 2014 and those between 50,000 and 250,000 square feet reporting in June 2015. Residential developments within each group would have an extra year to comply, so the largest would report in June 2015 and the rest would follow suit in 2016.

This proposal is part of Emanuel’s Sustainable Chicago 2015 Action Agenda, which outlines 24 goals to improve the city’s environmental performance. Other efforts under the Sustainable Chicago umbrella include Retrofit Chicago, a voluntary program that promotes building energy efficiency.

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