City to recognize high performing commercial buildings

Strategies to reduce climate change pollution highlight large building energy use

What large commercial buildings are making great strides on energy efficiency in Minneapolis? Find out at the Building Energy Challenge Awards.

3:30-4:30 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 2
City Hall Rotunda, 350 S. Fifth St., Fourth Street entrance
RSVPs appreciated

Mayor Betsy Hodges and City Council Vice President Elizabeth Glidden will award high-performing large commercial buildings in Minneapolis in three categories: Business, Community and Hospitality. They will also recognize the progress of buildings participating in the Minneapolis Building Energy Challenge, which seeks to get tenants, managers and owners of large commercial buildings to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency and renewable energy actions by 15 percent (from the 2014 level) by 2020.

Tenants in large commercial buildings can affect how their buildings use energy. What seem like small activities for individuals – switching off computer monitors when away from their desks, powering down equipment at night, and positioning desks and equipment to maximize daylighting – can add up to significant greenhouse gas reductions. Since energy costs are part of leased space costs, tenants may also find that reducing energy use avoids certain increases in their leased space costs.

In addition to reducing pollution, energy efficient buildings can attract more tenants and increase real estate values. Making buildings more energy efficient can drive jobs in renovation and engineering. For all these reasons plus reducing climate change pollution, the City adopted its Commercial Building Benchmarking and Transparency ordinance in 2013. This ordinance requires large buildings to track and disclose their energy consumption. By now, the majority of commercial buildings larger than 50,000 square feet have submitted their energy use to the City.

The Building Energy Challenge

All buildings that are subject to the benchmarking ordinance may participate in the challenge and are eligible for milestone awards, which will be presented at annual awards ceremonies. Buildings can qualify as challenge leaders by publicly committing to a 15 percent greenhouse gas reduction. Challenge leaders will get recognition each year at awards ceremonies, on the Minneapolis Energy Benchmarking website, in case studies and in the Minneapolis Energy News newsletter. Owners and managers can enroll their buildings as challenge leaders here.

The City of Minneapolis recognizes climate change as a serious problem to which human activities contribute heavily. The commercial-industrial sector contributed almost half of the total citywide emissions in 2014 with commercial building energy use as the main source of the sector's greenhouse gas emissions. An analysis released earlier this year of the energy use of 429 public and commercial buildings in Minneapolis revealed that those buildings have the combined potential to save $24 million in 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 Building Energy Challenge aligns with the goals and activities of the Clean Energy Partnership, a collaboration of the City, Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy. The partnership’s 2015-2016 work plan calls for working to improve energy efficiency in large commercial buildings and establishing a recognition program for such buildings.

The challenge and the ordinance both support the goals of the Minneapolis Climate Action Plan, which calls for a greenhouse gas reduction in the city by 30 percent by 2025 and 80 percent or more by 2050.

Published Oct 19, 2016