Chicago’s Benchmarking Ordinance Tracking Your Community’s Energy Usage

In the business world, benchmarking is a management tool that is commonly used to analyze where one business stands in comparison to others in the same industry. For example, a doctor’s office might want to benchmark the practice to analyze a patient’s wait before seeing a doctor compared to the standard amount of minutes in their industry.

Measuring Energy Usage

 In the property management industry, benchmarking ordinances are now being used to measure a building’s energy usage and compare it to other similar buildings. Why? Because statistics show that buildings account for about two-thirds of total community greenhouse gas production, which traps heat in the atmosphere.

In this day and age, energy is money. And in big condo buildings, energy is big money—we’re talking thousands upon thousands of dollars in waste or savings.  It is very important for boards and management to understand what energy consultants are looking for within a building—and how they can work with boards and managers to suggest and implement greener, money-saving measures for buildings of every size. It's also beneficial to understand the aims of Chicago’s energy laws and what has been achieved since their adoption.

Local Laws

In September 2013, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago’s City Council adopted a building energy benchmarking ordinance to raise awareness of energy performance in its building infrastructure. The ordinance calls on existing municipal, commercial and residential buildings larger than 50,000 square feet to track whole building energy use, to report to the city annually, and to verify data accuracy every three years. The law covers less than 1 percent of Chicago’s buildings, which account for about 20 percent of total energy used by all buildings.

Improving energy efficiency is a key element of Sustainable Chicago, Mayor Emanuel’s 3-year action agenda to make Chicago more livable, competitive and sustainable. The first compliance deadline was June 1, 2014 for municipal and commercial buildings larger than 250,000 square feet. 

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