Minneapolis making public and commercial building energy use more transparent

New report finds huge potential for energy savings

A new analysis of the energy use of 429 public and commercial buildings in Minneapolis reveals that these buildings have the combined potential to save $24 million on energy costs per year and avoid more than 120,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions by increasing their energy efficiency to reduce consumption by 15 percent. The City of Minneapolis’ new report analyzed the 2014 energy use of 258 commercial and 169 public buildings that submitted data to the City as required by the building energy benchmarking and transparency ordinance (building owners had until June 2015 to submit data). The buildings in the report include 96 million square feet of floor space and account for more than 8.2 million mmbtu (million British thermal units) of total energy use, which is approximately the equivalent use of 89,000 households or roughly half of the households in the city.

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 74. The median score was 68 for public buildings and 78 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.)

·         Energy performance in public buildings showed promising trends toward the City’s goals. A preliminary three-year analysis indicated a 7 percent reduction in energy use (the calculation is adjusted for weather variables).

·         Compared to the last report, more data and better quality data came in; 90 percent of required buildings submitted responses to the data request by the deadline compared to 87 percent last year. Data for the number of buildings greater than 100,000 square feet with high data quality increased 16 percent.

The energy use of these 429 buildings represents 17 percent of Minneapolis’ citywide greenhouse gas emissions. Energy use in commercial and industrial buildings accounts for 46 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. Increasing energy efficiency benefits Minneapolis building owners and residents alike by lowering energy costs, increasing property values, creating jobs and reducing air pollution.

A related City effort includes the Minneapolis Building Energy Challenge for large commercial buildings 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.

Award finalist

Environmental Initiative recently announced the Minneapolis energy benchmarking program as one of three awards finalists in the Energy and Climate category. The prestigious annual awards recognize Minnesota programs and projects for their positive and engaging environmental impacts.

Find more information at www.minneapolisenergybenchmarking.org.

Published Apr 13, 2016