As we hit mid-summer, I begin to look forward to the things I love about the fall: jackets and sweaters, my kids going back to school and four months of being up to my ears in utility data. This is the time of year that I plan for one of my most challenging annual tasks - updating MEEA’s tracking data to include the latest round of utility annual reporting on energy efficiency spending and savings. It's a labor of love that occupies much of my time September through January so we can release new estimates at our annual Midwest Energy Solutions Conference in February.
On March 22, 2017, the Illinois Commerce Commission passed a resolution initiating the NextGrid Utility of the Future Study. NextGrid will be an 18-month collaborative process to explore the ways in which alternative utility regulatory models, advances in technology, and consumer preferences and engagement can shape the grid of the future. This initiative will build upon the 2011 Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act, the Illinois Statewide Smart Grid Collaborative and the recent Future Energy Jobs Act.
On June 6, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy released a new report on the increased health and economic costs that would result from an expanded industrial opt-out policy in the state. ACEEE found that expanded opt-out would cost Ohio residents billions of dollars due to higher electricity rates, increased utility system costs and medical expenses from increased air pollution.
Net-zero energy (NZE)buildings come in all shapes and sizes and can be found in every climate zone. The Midwest is home to many NZE buildings, and public buildings are helping to lead the way.
The New Buildings Institute compiled the 2016 List of Zero Net Energy Buildings report, which lists the current net-zero energy buildings across the country. Below are a few Midwestern NZE public buildings discussed on a recent MEEA policy webinar.*
Building system controls that automate the use of HVAC, lighting and ventilation systems in commercial buildings continue to become more sophisticated, and the model energy code is keeping pace with these changes. In fact, since 2004, a third of all changes to the model energy code for commercial buildings are related to building system controls. Given this pace of change, it is reasonable to wonder if building professionals are able to ensure that energy systems are designed, installed and configured properly.
The “Building Energy Awareness” ordinance requires certain buildings to record annual whole-building energy and water consumption data into the free ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager software. City-owned buildings will lead the way benchmarking in the first year under the ordinance. Privately-owned commercial buildings 50,000 sq.ft. and larger will need to comply by April 1, 2018. Both city- and privately-owned buildings will be required to report their consumption information each year thereafter.
In the last month, energy benchmarking at the city level has really heated up in the Midwest. Benchmarking policies have proven to be a crucial first step to achieving energy savings for cities. Buildings comprise around 40 percent of the total energy consumption in the United States.
Kansas City, MO
Kansas City is preparing for its first privately-owned buildings to report under the Kansas City Energy Empowerment Ordinance. All non-municipal buildings (institutional, commercial, and multifamily residential) of at least 100,000 square feet must submit their energy and water consumption data by May 1, 2017.
St. Louis, Missouri is aiming to become the fifth city in the Midwest with a mandatory energy benchmarking ordinance. On December 9, 2016, Alderman John Coater introduced a potential benchmarking ordinance which would help reduce building energy use, an objective of the city’s Sustainability Plan.
The MEEA Codes team took their talents to Cleveland, OH where they held the 7th Annual Midwest Building Energy Codes Conference from November 15 -16, 2016. This event was a success with two productive days of networking and discussion among a diverse group of building efficiency professionals in the Midwest (and some from the coasts). Building professionals were represented from Federal, State and Local Energy Offices, Federal National Laboratories, Consulting Agencies, Non-Profits, and Code Enforcement Agencies. MEEA invited experts from across the Midwest and Nation to discuss timely topics related to building energy code adoption, compliance and enforcement – these are described below.
Buildings comprise around 40 percent of the total energy consumption in the United States, and benchmarking policies have proven to be a crucial first step to achieving energy savings.
The Evanston City Council is currently considering a water and energy benchmarking ordinance to better track and reduce energy waste and costs for its residents. The proposed ordinance has been in development since March 2015, and the council is expected to vote on the ordinance at its Monday, December 12 meeting.