Minneapolis making public and commercial building energy use more transparent

Published May 26, 2015 as a City of Minneapolis Press Release

A new analysis of the energy use of 365 public and commercial buildings in Minneapolis reveals that these buildings have the combined potential to save $11 million on energy costs per year and avoid more than 62,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions by increasing their energy efficiency to reduce consumption by 10 percent. The City of Minneapolis’ new report analyzed the 2013 energy use of 194 commercial and 171 public buildings that submitted data to the City as required by the building energy benchmarking and transparency ordinance (building owners had until June 2014 to submit data). The buildings in the report include 98 million square feet of floor space and account for more than 1.5 billion mmbtu (million British thermal units) of total energy use, which is approximately the equivalent use of 47,000 houses or all of the households in south Minneapolis.

Key findings include:

  • Of the 146 largest properties in Minneapolis, 27 are high performers, 51 perform above average and 68 perform below average. The below-average performing buildings could save 43 percent on energy costs if their performance improved to the current average.
  • Of buildings reporting, hospitals, hotels and schools have the greatest potential for energy savings.
  • Office buildings are generally high performers with an average Energy Star score of 87. (Energy Star scores range from 1 to 100, with 100 being the best and 50 being average. A building that scores 75 or higher is eligible for Energy Star certification.)
  • The median Energy Star score for all buildings was 64. The median score was 38 for public buildings and 81 for private properties.
  • Building age didn’t relate to the amount of energy the buildings used; older buildings that have been retrofitted with modern systems can have high Energy Star ratings.

The energy use of these 365 buildings represents 26 percent of Minneapolis’ commercial and industrial greenhouse gas emissions. Energy use in commercial and industrial buildings accounts for 47 percent of emissions in the city. The City has goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 15 percent by 2015, 30 percent by 2025 and 80 percent or more by 2050.

The benchmarking and transparency ordinance is intended to increase energy awareness and spur action to increase efficiency. Increasing energy efficiency benefits Minneapolis building owners and residents alike by lowering energy costs, increasing property values, creating jobs and reducing air pollution.

Minneapolis was the first city in the Midwest and seventh in the nation to adopt a benchmarking and transparency policy. Today, 13 cities, one county and two states require building energy benchmarking. The most recent laws passed were in Portland, Oregon, and Atlanta, Georgia, in April 2015.

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