City making public and commercial building energy use more transparent

New report finds huge potential for energy savings

A new analysis of energy use for 417 public and commercial buildings in Minneapolis reveals that they have the combined potential to save $27 million per year on energy costs by increasing their energy efficiency to reduce consumption by 15 percent. They would also avoid more than 108,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually.

The City of Minneapolis’ new report analyzed the 2015 energy use of 264 commercial and 153 public properties that submitted data to the City as required by the building energy benchmarking and transparency ordinance. (Building owners had until June 2016 to submit data.) The buildings in the report include 107 million square feet of floor space and account for more than 8.1 million mmbtu (million British thermal units) of total energy use, which is the equivalent use of about 102,000 households or roughly 60 percent of the households in the city.

This is the final phase of the four-year tiered rollout; all energy and water data associated with properties covered under the ordinance is now public.

In this report

  • Of the buildings reporting, hospitals, worship facilities and offices showed the greatest potential for energy savings.
  • The median Energy Star score for all buildings was 71. The median score was 70 for public buildings and 76 for private properties. (Energy Star scores range from 1 to 100, with 100 being the best and 50 being the national median. A building that scores 75 or higher is eligible for Energy Star certification. The City offers Energy Star certification grants to buy down the cost of certification for benchmarking buildings.)
  • Energy performance in public buildings showed promising trends toward the City’s goals. A preliminary three-year analysis indicated a 4 percent reduction in energy use. (The calculation is adjusted for weather variables).
  • Energy performance in private buildings remained fairly unimproved between 2014 and 2015 with median Energy Star scores changing from 79 to 78. The other metric, total weather-normalized energy use per square foot, dipped less than 1 percent.
  • Compared to the last report, more data and better quality data came in; 94 percent of required buildings submitted responses to the data request by the deadline compared to 90 percent last year.

The energy use of these 417 buildings represents approximately 15 percent of Minneapolis’ citywide greenhouse gas emissions. Energy use in commercial buildings accounts for approximately 22 percent of emissions in the city. The City has goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent by 2025 and 80 percent or more by 2050.

The benchmarking and transparency ordinance is intended to increase energy awareness and spur action to increase efficiency. More energy efficient buildings and energy efficiency projects give Minneapolis building owners, occupants and the community tremendous benefits including lower energy costs, higher property values, more comfortable buildings, reduced air pollution and jobs in energy efficiency services.

A related City effort, the Minneapolis Building Energy Challenge, encourages large commercial building owners and managers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 15 percent by 2020. The City is also working with utilities through the Clean Energy Partnership to make benchmarking easier and to connect building managers with incentives for energy efficiency improvements.

Find more information at www.minneapolisenergybenchmarking.org.