Media: St. Paul, takes a gradual approach on tracking buildings’ energy use (Energy News Network)

Nov 14, 2018

From Energy News Network:

Tracking energy use is the first step to reducing it, but while a city’s larger buildings tend to have staff well-versed in energy saving strategies like benchmarking, educating smaller building owners takes more effort and outreach.

For officials in St. Paul, Minnesota, that’s the takeaway from an energy efficiency initiative that started off gradually by taking a voluntary, rather than mandatory, approach.

In June, St. Paul announced a new program for managing energy efficiency in commercial and multifamily residential buildings, which account for 35 percent of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions. Energize St. Paul began with an initiative called the Race to Reduce — a voluntary benchmarking program spanning three months and culminating in a recognition ceremony to take place Nov. 29.

Benchmarking is a low- or even no-cost way to reduce emissions. All building owners have to do is enter their electricity and natural gas use, either by manually reporting monthly bills or using data streamlined from their utility. The EPA’s Energy Star software lets building owners know how their building compares to those with a similar size, occupancy and climate. The Energy Department says that simply tracking these numbers reduces energy use by an average of 2.4 percent annually...

...Not all benchmarking programs look alike. Minneapolis introduced benchmarking in 2013, but unlike Energize St. Paul, the program was mandatory. Minneapolis also had an educational period, but it was differently structured. In the first year of benchmarking, only public buildings reported data. The next year, commercial buildings joined, but the size threshold was 100,000 square feet, which shrank the following year to 50,000 square feet. Minneapolis also excludes large multi-family apartment buildings, which present their own unique barriers to energy efficiency investments.

According to Minneapolis benchmarking outreach and policy specialist Katie Jones, “that phase-in not only allowed the building managers themselves to become acquainted with [benchmarking], it gave the city appropriate balance in the number of buildings that would be coming to them for help. That way it was not 400 buildings at once, it was a couple hundred buildings at a time in each phase.”

Read the full article on the Energy News Network

Related Links
Minneapolis energy benchmarking information
St. Paul energy benchmarking information