Minnesota Cities Expand Requirements for Energy Benchmarking

If you own or manage a large apartment building, condominium complex, or other qualifying multi-family residential facility in Minneapolis, a deadline is looming. You have until June 1, 2020, to benchmark its energy consumption and report that information to the city—something you now will be required to do on annual basis.

The new rule impacts multi-family residential buildings that are 50,000 square feet or more. It expands upon the City’s Commercial Building Energy Benchmarking and Transparency ordinance, which has been in place since 2013 for all commercial buildings of that size plus city-owned buildings 25,000 square feet and greater. The program is designed so building owners and the City can track energy and water usage year to year. It helps determine opportunities for improvement and is used to track progress toward the City’s Climate Action Plan.

Minneapolis was the first in a growing list of Minnesota cities to require building energy benchmarking. An Energy News Network article entitled “As building benchmarking catches on in Minnesota, state’s pioneer shows results” examines the program’s effectiveness.

Sample Energy Star Portfolio ManagerAccording to the article, energy use intensity of larger commercial buildings in Minneapolis declined by 5.5 percent between 2015 and 2018, and buildings in Minneapolis outperform their peers nationally in ENERGY STAR’s Portfolio Manager program, which the City uses for energy benchmarking. While some of those savings might have occurred without the ordinance, supporters are pleased with results so far.

Energy Insight, Inc., has helped numerous commercial building owners in Minneapolis meet the energy analysis and benchmarking requirements of the City ordinance and is well positioned to help owners of multi-family facilities, as well. Energy Insight delivers the Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy joint Multi-Family Building Efficiency (MFBE) program, helping residents and owners of multi-family facilities save energy and lower costs. It includes energy analyses and direct install of LED lightbulbs, low-flow shower heads, faucet aerators, and other energy- and water-saving products.

“Many multi-family facilities impacted by the expanded ordinance have or will go through the MFBE program to support ongoing identification of savings opportunities,” said Project Manager Charlotte Currier of Energy Insight. “If they pursue direct install, this is going to save energy up front. That really adds up for buildings that have 150 or more units.”

There is funding available through the Minneapolis Green Cost Share program to help businesses and organizations make energy-related improvements. It offers matching grants for commercial, industrial, and multi-family properties for energy-efficiency projects.

“The Green Cost Share program has helped a few of our MFBE customers get funding for their projects,” Currier said. “Those resources encourage people to act.”

As concerns over climate change continue to grow, benchmarking is proving to be a powerful motivator for improvement. Once business or property owners understand how their buildings use energy, it is easier to prioritize improvements and quantify results.

Other communities across Minnesota have watched progress in Minneapolis and see the value. Over the past year, St. Paul, St. Louis Park, and Edina have approved energy and water benchmarking ordinances, and a number of others may soon follow suit.

When they do, Energy Insight is prepared to help. Learn more.