Buildings are the Biggest Energy Users. A Minnesota Town is Doing Something About It

white & glass commercial office building

Big cities aren’t the only ones making sustainable communities a priority.

On June 4, 2019, the Edina, MN City Council approved the Efficient Building Benchmarking Ordinance encouraging building owners to track and reduce their energy use. The initiative requires owners of existing commercial and multifamily buildings over 25,000 square feet to benchmark their building's energy d ata. Edina is now the second city in Minnesota (after nearby Minneapolis) to require benchmarking.

Buildings use 60% of all energy in Edina, and benchmarking is a common-sense step to reduce energy usage and improve energy efficiency in the city. Benchmarking helps building owners and staff understand their current usage and identify free and low-cost upgrades that reduce energy waste.

“This program shows 1-2 percent savings annually,” said Edina Sustainability Manager Tara Brown in a press release. “This means there are savings available to those building owners and property managers who make those energy efficiency changes. It promotes investment in current buildings.”

map of benchmarking policies in the midwest

Edina’s Holistic Approach to Sustainability

This is not the first step Edina has taken to lessen its impact on the environment. In 2014, Edina launched the Vision Edina environmental stewardship program, which took a holistic approach to sustainability initiatives within the city.

The plan brought together residents and leaders to enact comprehensive recycling, smart building and energy efficiency practices. Through the Vision Edina program, the city committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions 30% by 2025 and 80% by 2050.

Resources for a Smooth Transition

To help building owners and managers comply with the ordinance, Hennepin County, MN has organized a collaborative and hired a consultant to help manage and administer the program. Local utilities CenterPoint Energy and Xcel Energy are also working to ensure customers have access to accurate energy data for benchmarking. Both CenterPoint and Xcel updated their systems to automatically send energy data to ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, allowing for a seamless transition for building owners.

Through local government and utility support, Edina has provided commercial and multifamily building owners the support and tools to be informed and responsible about their energy use.