City Energy Ordinance Vote Delayed Amid Cost Concerns

City Energy Ordinance Vote Delayed Amid Cost Concerns

An energy ordinance for the city of Chicago passed a city council committee by a vote of 11-2 on July 30, but the vote was delayed until September as a result of a procedural tactic invoked by Aldermen Brendan Reilly and James Cappleman. Both aldermen represent wards with many large condominium and apartment buildings.

The ordinance, put forth in late June by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, would require that the city’s 3,500 commercial, residential and municipal buildings that occupy more than 50,000 sq ft would be required to benchmark their energy usage and allow the city to publicly disclose the resulting energy efficiency data beginning in 2015.

“Through benchmarking and disclosure, the ordinance would spur the market for energy efficiency by encouraging building owners to make improvements, creating growth opportunities for energy service companies and contractors,” said a press statement from Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office.

Buildings would use the EPA’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager to track and report energy usage; the EPA reports that buildings that used this tool to track energy usage from 2008-2011 have received an energy savings of 7%.

While the ordinance has garnered much support, there are ongoing cost concerns among the condominium and apartment industry in Chicago. The Building Owners and Managers Association of Chicago (BOMA Chicago) opposes the ordinance and issued a statement that included these words:

“While we support Mayor Emanuel’s benchmarking ordinance, we believe the public disclosure mandate in the proposed ordinance will unfairly penalize and marginalize many older and historically significant buildings in Chicago. Frankly, not all of our members are Class A LEED Platinum. We represent many buildings that are doing what they can to improve their sustainability and energy efficiency, but still struggle with infrastructure limitations and the cost of retrofit work. Publishing the scores for buildings that simply cannot afford the work necessary to raise them will not ‘shame’ those buildings into achieving higher scores. It will simply impose yet another competitive burden on an already challenged sector.”

The ordinance also requires that reported energy usage data must be reviewed and confirmed by a certified architect, engineer or other professional every three years. This would certainly create an additional expense for buildings, although the city has said it will provide trainings to existing building engineers on how to perform the confirmations.

The ordinance at this time includes no mandate based on results of data disclosure, although similar energy efficiency reporting models in other major cities have recently implemented mandates.

To share your opinion of the ordinance with the Mayor’s office, we encourage you to e-mail and CC

Other resources include: