Chicago Residential Buildings Must Start Reporting Annual Energy Usage

Chicago Residential Buildings Must Start Reporting Annual Energy Usage

In early September, the Chicago City Council passed by a vote of 32 to 17 an energy ordinance that requires owners of large buildings to start measuring and reporting their energy usage.

The ordinance, put forth in late June by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, requires that the city’s 3,500 commercial, residential and municipal buildings that occupy more than 50,000 sq ft benchmark their energy usage and allow the city to publicly disclose the resulting energy efficiency data beginning in 2015. This data would be compiled into a report and will be made available to the public, including homeowners, commercial tenants, industry professionals, and others.

Buildings are to use the EPA’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager to track and report energy usage; the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that buildings that used this tool to track energy usage from 2008-2011 have received an energy savings of 7%.

Preparing for Compliance

The ordinance requires that energy reports must be reviewed, stamped and signed by a professional engineer or architect every three years. This may create an additional expense for buildings, although the city has said it will provide training to existing building engineers on how to perform the confirmations. The ordinance states that the commissioner may exempt owners of buildings who submit documentation establishing that the hiring of a licensed professional will cause undue hardship.

Buildings affected by this ordinance are broken into two categories:  Group 1 buildings are those containing more than 250,000 gross sq ft and Group 2 buildings are those containing 50,000 or more sq ft, but less than 250,000. (Buildings containing less than 50,000 sq ft are not subject to this ordinance.)

Group 1 Buildings:  On June 1, 2014, buildings in this category will need to begin tracking their energy usage data over the course of the next 12 months. On June 1, 2015 and each year after, these buildings will need to submit this benchmarking information to the City.

Group 2 Buildings:  On June 1, 2015, buildings in this category will need to begin energy usage data.  On June 1, 2016 and each year after, these buildings will need to submit this benchmarking information to the City.

These dates listed include a one-year delay for residential buildings; however, commercial properties are required to submit this information sooner than the dates listed above. Lieberman Management Services will be compiling and distributing a list of the Lieberman-managed Associations that are in each building group.

“Lieberman Management Services will assist all clients affected by this ordinance to ensure proper, timely reporting,” said CEO Carla Young Kennedy.  “Our goal is to ease the reporting burden and minimize any additional cost that could be incurred as a result of this new requirement. We will publish informational bulletins on compliance with the ordinance so that our Boards have a high level of comfort with the process and the data that will be reported for their building.”

The ordinance does not include any mandates (e.g., requiring that buildings fall under a certain benchmark or purchase specific energy efficient equipment) based on results of data disclosure at this time, although similar energy efficiency reporting models in other major cities have recently resulted in mandates.

More information on benchmarking, including a step-by-step guide to Energy Star, can be found at www.liebermanmanagement.com/energystar.