Minneapolis Considers Building Energy Ratings to Improve Efficiency

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UPDATE: The Minneapolis City Council voted 13-0 to adopt this ordinance on 2/8/2013.


photo credit: Jeff Johnson

Imagine you are in the market for a new office and your company wants to minimize its electric and gas bills. You could ask the previous tenant how much they paid, but factors ranging from weather and how the tenant used the space (meeting space uses less energy than computer servers) could impact those bills.  Now imagine you had a rating that you could compare spaces based on energy efficiency that took in to account most of those factors. Just like you can compare cars based on miles per gallon for fuel efficiency. You could compare offices based on this rating. Minneapolis and energy efficiency advocates are proposing to do just that, but the Minneapolis Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) is standing in the way.

On Monday at 1:30 pm, you can stand up for energy efficiency by going to the meeting of the Regulatory, Energy and Environment Committee of the Minneapolis City Council.

The City of Minneapolis is considering rating and disclosure for energy use in commercial buildings. According to the Institute for Market Transformation, commercial buildings made up 18% of greenhouse emissions by sector in the United States. Right now, building owners can’t get the information on tenants energy use to help them become more energy efficient, and prospective tenants can’t evaluate buildings based on how energy efficient they are.  

While most of the dollars spent on energy leave the community (to pay for energy resources), savings realized for energy efficiency mean dollars can be redirected to other purposes, like reinvesting in businesses or hiring more workers. The energy efficiency retrofit industry also cannot be outsourced, energy efficiency investments can provide local jobs.

WHAT: Support commercial buildings energy efficiency by creating a miles per gallon type rating for buildings at the Regulatory, Energy and Environment Committee of the Minneapolis City Council. They are considering amending Chapter 47 of the Minneapolis Code of ordinances, related to establishing a Commercial Building Rating and Disclosure policy. This policy would apply to relevant buildings over 50,000 square feet.

WHEN: The Regulatory, Energy and Environment Committee hearing will take place on Monday, January 28 beginning 1:30 PM 

WHERE: The committee hearing will take place in the City Council Chamber at the Minneapolis City Hall– Room 317 at 350 South 5th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55415


·         Job Creation: This policy has the potential to motivate investment in existing buildings and create jobs in the energy management, benchmarking, auditing and installation/retrofit industries. Examples from cities where policies are in place, such as New York, show increased demand for energy services and growth in energy management companies. Minneapolis has adopted specific targets for increasing green jobs and green companies in the city, and green building policies may help the city reach these goals.  

·         Environmental Benefit: The Minneapolis City Council has adopted targets for community-wide greenhouse gas reduction of 15% by 2015 and 30% by 2025. In 2010, energy use in commercial and industrial buildings accounted for over 44% of Minneapolis’ community-wide emissions. Policies focused on these building types, like rating and disclosure, are critical to achieving the City’s goals.

Can’t make the hearing? Let the city council know you support commercial building energy efficiency.

Committee Members:

Submit your comments by email.

Want more information? The city has put together both a policy brief and an FAQ document.



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