429 buildings and counting: Benchmarking on track to cut Minneapolis energy waste
Although commercial and industrial energy use is
accountable for nearly half of all greenhouse gas emissions in Minneapolis, it is also the largest controllable operational cost in buildings.
Understanding energy performance in buildings is our first step toward better managing it. In my role as CEE’s benchmarking outreach and policy coordinator, I assist the City of Minneapolis to implement the Commercial Building Rating and Disclosure program.
In 2013, Minneapolis adopted a policy requiring public
buildings larger than 25,000 square feet and private
commercial buildings larger than 50,000 square feet to report energy and water performance data annually via the Environmental Pollution Agency’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. The policy was among a set of strategies laid out in the Minneapolis Climate Action Plan to improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In April, the related benchmarking program released its third annual report on data collection activities, benchmarking results, and analysis for the city’s largest public and private commercial buildings, based on building data submissions through August 2015.
The program’s evolution over just a few brief years is encouraging, and signs look good that its impact will continue to grow. As energy disclosure increases awareness of building energy performance, we believe increased transparency will allow the market to spur action for even greater efficiency — providing tremendous benefits for building owners, occupants, and the community, and leading to lower energy costs, higher property values, enhanced building comfort, and reduced air pollution.
2014 BENCHMARKING KEY FINDINGS
Data quantity and quality improved.
Private building response rates reached 90% by last August, and responses for the largest private buildings reached 100% by the end of 2015. Data quality also improved for the largest buildings, jumping from 75% data compliance in 2013 to 91% in 2014. Of buildings sized 50,000-100,000 square feet, 84% had sufficient data quality to be compliant.
Public schools renewed focus.
The Minneapolis Public Schools district has placed a renewed focus on whole building energy performance monitoring, and notably improved data collection accuracy in their 57 buildings. The district is also investigating ENERGY STAR certification for eligible buildings.
Benchmarked buildings’ footprint identified.
In total, 17% of city-wide greenhouse gas emissions are represented by the 429 buildings analyzed in the report. Efficiency improvements in this small number of buildings could substantially reduce city-wide emissions.
Energy performance trended positive.
Minneapolis’ large commercial buildings outperform national peers. Almost half score above the ENERGY STAR certification-qualifying threshold. In public buildings, preliminary analysis shows a 7% drop in (weather-normalized) energy use intensity.
Greatest savings opportunities identified in offices, hospitals, and worship facilities.
Representing 40% of benchmarked square footage and 35% of total energy consumed, offices show the greatest potential to cut energy waste and harmful emissions. Hospitals, medical offices, and worship facilities have the largest opportunity for individual improvement, with high potential for savings.
With a few years under our belts now, we’re looking forward to several upcoming developments including:
- The benchmarking team (with funding from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency) will provide grants for buildings to achieve ENERGY STAR certification, helping to make high-performing buildings more visible and motivate others to improve performance.
- Minneapolis Building Energy Challenge offers a platform for citywide competition among buildings to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 15% by 2020. If all buildings join, the city would see reductions equaling almost 120,000 metric tons of CO2 and would save more than $24 million in annual energy costs.
- The Clean Energy Partnership between the City, Xcel Energy, and CenterPoint Energy continues to provide unique opportunities to help the City reach its Climate Action Plan and Energy Vision for 2040 goals, which include reducing energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions.
- The City is currently exploring ways to make benchmarking information more accessible and usable to building owners and managers through digital mapping and other means. Used well, benchmarking and disclosure allows owners and managers to compete in the marketplace using new metrics.
- This year will mark the start of full-building performance transparency for large commercial buildings, and will conclude the preliminary “phase-in” process of the benchmarking policy with the final group of buildings set to publicly disclose data by the end of this summer.
This post exposes just the tip of the iceberg from the City of Minneapolis 2014 Benchmarking Results
For more details about what we learned in our third year of benchmarking — including individual building results for public commercial buildings greater than 25,000 square feet and private commercial buildings over 100,000 square feet — visit the Minneapolis Energy Benchmarking webpage at minneapolisenergybenchmarking.org