Minneapolis disclosing public building energy use

The energy used by more than 90 public buildings in Minneapolis is now published in the first of yearly reports. The City will use this information to prioritize investments in its buildings to save energy and money.  The reporting is called for by a new ordinance requiring large commercial buildings to annually measure and disclose their energy use. For transparency and to set an example, the City of Minneapolis and other public entities are the first to report. Private building reporting deadlines begin in 2014.

The report details the energy use of 102 public buildings in Minneapolis, including schools, libraries, office buildings and other City, County and Park Board properties in 2012. The buildings in the report include 21 million square feet of floor space and account for more than 1.3 million mmbtu (million British thermal units) of total energy use.

Key findings of the report include:

Energy efficiency improvements

From 2009-2012, energy efficiency investments in City-owned buildings have saved more than $6 million in energy costs. In the past four years, $2.4 million of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds have been spent in buildings owned by the City to install more efficient heating and ventilation equipment, retrofit light fixtures to high efficiency fluorescents, and add insulation. The City has also reduced energy use with a no-idling policy of City vehicles, more fuel-efficient vehicles in the fleets, and a uniform temperature policy in City buildings. In addition, in the past four years the City has installed 805 kilowatts in solar arrays that produce 1 million kilowatt hours of carbon-free electricity every year. Water treatment and distribution accounts for 38 percent of the City’s electrical use. Water Works has improved its process in the past four years so that now it takes 10 percent less electricity than it did in 2008 to produce and distribute each gallon of clean water.

Other cities that have building energy benchmarking ordinances include Austin, Texas; Boston; Chicago; New York; Philadelphia; San Francisco; Seattle and Washington, D.C. California and Washington state also have the requirement.

The Central Library: a case study

The third generation of the Minneapolis Central Library, owned by Hennepin County, was built in 2006 with state-of-the-art, energy-efficient features. A grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funded a study identifying even more energy savings to be had with the heating and lighting controls, the lighting schedule and the heat recovery system. A tune up making those changes saves another $102,000 in energy costs every year. In all, the Central Library’s energy use has decreased by 40 percent since 2008.

Published Nov. 21, 2013