Energy Benchmarking Heats Up in the Midwest

detroit by night

Summer is just getting into full swing, and across the country some communities are already roasting. Perhaps uncoincidentally, the process to adopt energy benchmarking policies is also heating up. Because buildings contribute to a large portion of greenhouse gas emissions, benchmarking policies are often part of city and state energy and climate plans. By tracking reliable and consistent energy consumption data, these policies can enable better decision-making around building energy use and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

Ann Arbor, Michigan

The Office of Sustainability and Innovations and a community task force have been developing an energy and water benchmarking ordinance for large multifamily and commercial buildings since late 2020. Despite the pandemic, Ann Arbor has been actively engaging citizens to participate in the policy development process. The city held a Virtual Open House on February 4, 2021 to present details of the policy and hear public input. They also held a public survey through March 5, 2021. If passed as currently drafted, privately-owned large commercial and multifamily buildings (more than four units) will be phased in, eventually requiring buildings larger than 20,000 square feet to report their energy use to the city every year. City-owned buildings greater than 10,000 square feet will benchmark and report their data publicly. Privately-owned buildings can choose to make their data publicly available. The draft language for the Commercial and Multifamily Benchmarking and Transparency Ordinance was introduced to the Ann Arbor Energy Commission on June 8th, 2021 and can be found here.

Indianapolis and Marion County, Indiana

The City of Indianapolis and Marion County Office of Sustainability has been convening a stakeholder advisory committee to help develop a local benchmarking and transparency ordinance.

If passed, the ordinance will take a phased-in approach. The ordinance requirements will apply to city-owned buildings 50,000 square feet and larger in 2022, city-owned buildings 20,000 square feet and larger AND privately-owned buildings 100,000 square feet and larger benchmarking in 2023, and finally privately-owned buildings 50,000 square feet and larger benchmarking in 2024. In 2024, data from city-county-owned buildings and voluntarily benchmarked buildings will become available to the public. In 2025, that public data will also include privately-owned buildings 100,000 square feet and larger.

The draft of the Benchmarking and Transparency Ordinance was reviewed by Public Works on June 10, 2021 and may be voted upon by City Council soon.

Detroit, Michigan

On March 10, 2021, a draft energy benchmarking ordinance was introduced to the Detroit City Council. It was based upon the energy benchmarking ordinance that was adopted by Columbus, Ohio in 2020. According to the draft, “With this ordinance, the City and local property owners can drive energy and water efficiency in our building stock, save money for businesses and residents, and foster a cleaner and healthier environment.” In the meantime, the Detroit City Council Green Task Force Energy Waste Reduction (EWR) Committee has been working with the City of Detroit and community stakeholders to develop policy recommendations for commercial building benchmarking. Community Policy Open Houses are expected to be scheduled for July 2021. The process is anticipated to last through mid-2021 and will include a public comment period.