This week the City of Minneapolis Home Energy Disclosure program was honored with a competitive Innovation Award from the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (MEEA). Starting with the program’s kick-off in January 2020, all Minneapolis homes listed for sale are now required to have an energy disclosure report and score. The energy disclosure effort was recognized for several original elements that drove its successful first year, including its unique and replicable course of adoption.
At a private ceremony on March 23, MEEA announced the winners of its 17th annual Inspiring Efficiency Awards, honoring leaders and innovators in the energy efficiency community across six categories. “Despite huge challenges, 2020 proved to be a pivotal year for advancing energy efficiency in the Midwest,” said MEEA Executive Directory Stacey Paradis. “Among so many impactful efforts, MEEA is pleased to recognize the City of Minneapolis’s innovative achievements in residential efficiency.”
The celebrated program got its start in 2019 when the City of Minneapolis partnered with the nonprofit Center for Energy Environment (CEE) to pass a time-of-listing energy disclosure policy for single-family homes. City Council members Cam Gordon and Jeremy Schroeder co-authored the ordinance that won full council approval, making Minneapolis the fourth U.S. city with such a policy designed to inform and motivate homeowners to make energy improvements.
“In our first year, more than 6,000 homes received their energy disclosure report and score — a huge early accomplishment, driven by strategy,” emphasized Council Member Jeremy Schroeder (Ward 11). This early outcome represents a massive uptick; prior to the policy, only about 1,000 homeowners received information on home energy efficiency through energy audits.
The policy provides an energy report that shows Minneapolis home sellers and buyers how they can make their home more energy efficient and resilient. This will go a long way toward achieving the City’s Climate Action Plan goal to help 75% of homeowners participate in energy efficiency programs by 2025. Recommended improvements make homes less drafty, lower energy costs, and enhance resilience for climate-induced temperature extremes.
“From engagement to implementation, this policy reflects innovation in so many ways,” said Cam Gordon, Minneapolis City Council member (Ward 2). “In one key example, Minneapolis combined the Time-of-Sale energy disclosure with the Time-of-Sale safety inspection, saving time and money.”
In Minneapolis, data collection to generate the energy disclosure report was added to an existing pre-sale inspection. “This creative approach reduced opposition because it controlled costs for home sellers while simplifying the overall process,” explained local real estate agent Todd Shipman. With earned buy-in, Minneapolis emerged a national leader as measured by the program’s first year.
To further support the policy, the City partnered with CenterPoint Energy and CEE to provide follow-up communications and an energy advisor service for new homeowners. With disclosure as the foundation, the partners continue to explore new strategies to spur investments in home energy upgrades. “This policy has brought visibility and value to home energy performance,” said Todd Berreman, Director of Energy Efficiency at CenterPoint Energy. “By opening the door to ongoing conversations with homeowners about energy efficiency, this program offers new levels of control and choice for residents to save energy and money as they learn.”
The full list of 2021 Inspiring Efficiency Awardees:
Chairman’s Award: Nick Mark, CenterPoint Energy
Leadership: Ohio Environmental Council; Andy Johnson, Winneshiek Energy District
Education: Ameren Illinois Energy Efficiency Program
Impact: Greenlite Lighting Corporation USA; DTE Energy Efficiency Assistance Program
Innovation: City of Minneapolis Home Energy Disclosure; ComEd Energy Efficiency Program
Marketing: Focus on Energy
“We are grateful for MEEA’s recognition and we look forward to sharing our experience,” said Isaac Smith, CEE program manager. “Our local path offers useful policy development models for other midwestern cities. Our city-utility partnership yielded practical strategies toward overlapping goals. And our engagement approach — including collaborations with real estate agents and home inspectors — would help any city that wants to inform and empower homeowners to make energy improvements.” CEE’s consulting for communities of all sizes provides energy efficiency resources, planning and facilitation, and stakeholder engagement.
More information about the City of Minneapolis Home Energy Disclosure program is online at https://www.mncee.org/energy-disclosure/
Tim Hanrahan, 612-244-2419, firstname.lastname@example.org