Chicago expands large building energy benchmarking program five-fold

Dive Brief:

  • The City of Chicago has released data from a survey of large buildings, showing a slight decrease in energy use and higher-than-average efficiency, while showing no significant correlation between property size or age and energy performance, Sustainable Chicago reports. 
  • But the real story of the 2015 Chicago Energy Benchmarking Report is the expanded scope – some 1,840 buildings reported, representing more than 600 million square feet and a fifth of the city's power use from buildings. 
  • As the city's Chicago Energy Benchmarking Ordinance is phased in, more buildings are added to the energy survey; 2015 results included a five-fold increase in reporting properties with an 84% compliance rate. Under the ordinance, properties more than 50,000 square feet must report whole-building energy use annually, and verify the data every three years.

Dive Insight:

Result's of Chicago's large-building energy survey show the city's performance is improving, and increased response to the survey is helping identify where further gains can be made.

Released in December, the survey shows that "overall, buildings reported energy performance cores higher than national median levels, highlighting strong sector performance while also identifying building sectors with improvement potential."

Properties eligble for an Energy Star rating reported a median of 58 out of a possible 100, though the median scores vary by sector. Offices, schools and retail properties reported median Energy Star scores higher than the national median, while multifamily, lodging, and healthcare buildings reported lower scores.

This is the second year of the survey, meaning multi-year data was available for the first time on some properties, and those "indicated a slight decrease in weather-normalized site energy use," the survey found.

While buildings covered by the survey represent a small fraction of Chicago's properties, they consume about 20% of the city's building energy demand. Under the law, properties more than 50,000 square feet must report whole-building energy use annually, and verify the data every three years. 

"The new level of visibility offered by the data release and the associated visualization platform allows owners and managers to compare their properties’ performance with other, similar properties in the market, and allows them to start identifying high-impact opportunities for improvements," Amy Jewel, Chicago's advisor for the project, wrote in a post at Sustainable Chicago. "Brokers, leasing agents, and attorneys may consider the energy performance of the property when working with clients to develop or renegotiate a lease, and may consider incorporating green leasing language into future leases."

The city will release additional information on large city buildings in 2016 and years after, as well as providing building-specific energy profiles to property owners. Residential propoerties from 50,000-250,000 sq. feet will need to comply with energy reporting standards by June 1, 2016.

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Filed Under: Efficiency & Demand Response