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Chicago Passes Energy Benchmarking Ordinance

Published: Sep 11, 2013 Policy | Announcement

Today, the Chicago City Council voted 32-17 to adopt the Chicago Energy Use Benchmarking Ordinance. The ordinance requires approximately 3,500 commercial, residential, and municipal buildings over 50,000 square feet to track their energy consumption using the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's free Portfolio Manager web tool.

Covered buildings will report energy use data annually to the city, with the largest buildings (>250,000 square feet) being required to comply first, by June 2014, and buildings between 50,000 and 250,000 square feet reporting one year later. Residential buildings within each of those groups will have an extra year to comply. The ordinance allows the city to publicly disclose individual building energy performance starting in June 2015.

More than 80 energy and real estate businesses and public interest organizations supported the bill's adoption.

IMT congratulates Mayor Emanuel and the Chicago City Council on the passage of the bill, which makes Chicago the ninth U.S. city to require energy use benchmarking for large buildings.

"This law will drive transparency and awareness of energy use in the city's buildings and accelerate the market for energy efficiency, which will create local jobs," said IMT's executive director, Cliff Majersik. "Armed with information from benchmarking, Chicago's building owners will be able to work with tenants to run their buildings more efficiently, cutting energy waste and saving money in the process."

A recent U.S. EPA analysis cited average energy savings of 7 percent for buildings that used Portfolio Manager from 2008 to 2011. Chicago estimates that if the buildings covered by this ordinance make energy efficiency improvements that result in just 5 percent of energy savings, it will result in a $250 million investment, creating jobs and reducing carbon pollution by removing the equivalent of at least 50,000 cars from the road.