Do you know how much energy your office building uses? What about your neighbor's? Could you be saving energy (and money) by moving to a new building?
These are questions that many tenants and building owners can't answer, because building energy use is not transparent – with the exception of a few cities that have passed so-called "benchmarking and disclosure" policies.
In a handful of cities across the United States, large buildings are required to rate their energy performance against that of their peers, and then disclose that information publicly. Making this information transparent and public creates an incentive for building owners to increase the efficiency of their buildings to attract tenants and increase their property’s value. For example, if you're looking for office space in Lower Manhattan, you may consider both 29 and 39 Broadway (pictured) – two buildings on the same block near Battery Park. The choice may be a toss-up, until you learn that 29 Broadway has an ENERGY STAR rating of 7 (lowest 7% in the United States), whereas 39 Broadway has a rating of 79 (top 21% in the United States). Which one would you choose?
Yesterday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel introduced an ordinance that takes Chicago one step closer to joining the list of cities that have made increasing building energy performance a top priority. In an op-ed he published, the Mayor said:
To further accelerate energy efficiency today I introduced an ordinance that will require energy benchmarking and disclosure for thousands of the largest commercial, residential and municipal buildings in Chicago. One percent of all buildings in the city collectively use 22 percent of all building energy use. Data transparency unlocks markets, and an energy reduction by these buildings of just 5 percent would result in approximately $250 million in investment and be equivalent to taking over 50,000 cars off the road.
And in the Mayor’s press release, he noted that:
Good data drives markets and innovation. This ordinance will accelerate Chicago’s growth as a capital for green jobs by arming building owners, real estate companies, energy service companies and others with the information they need to make smart, cost-saving investments.
NEMA strongly supports Mayor Emanuel’s decision to add Chicago to the list of cities making it easier for tenants and building owners to make informed decisions on their energy use. We encourage the Chicago City Council to pass this ordinance as soon as possible to accelerate energy efficiency investments in the Windy City.