Monday, September 16, 2013

Chicago Benchmarking Ordinance Passes

The City of Chicago is making strides to improve its sustainability efforts. The City Council passed an ordinance requiring buildings in the city to compare energy consumption to other similar-sized buildings and allow the city government to make these findings publicly known. For Chicago, buildings over 50,000 square feet will be monitored and included in the reports.

To measure consumption, the city will use Portfolio Manager, a free online service the US Environmental Protect Agency (EPA) created. With this system, the information is automatically sent to the City where it is then reviewed by whomever the city has appointed for a three-year term--such professionals include an engineer or an architect. From there, the city will compile the data and release an annual report, tentatively set for January 2015 to allow time to gather the appropriate information.

The EPA's Portfolio Manger has proven to be a successful tool for energy management. A previous project showed businesses saving 7% on energy form 2008--2011. Analysts project if Chicago and save 5%, they will have an investment of $250 million. This investment is expected to help the environment by cutting emissions, while also creating jobs in the city, which will help by improving the economy and business revenue.

Current Chicago mayor, Rahm Emanuel, proposed this idea to the Council. It is expected to impact the city positively by creating jobs and helping the environment. According to Mayor Emanuel, the initiative will improve "Chicago’s growth as a capital for green jobs by arming building owners, real estate companies, energy service companies and others with the information they need to make smart, cost-saving investments.”

The bottom line is to assess the current energy situation so improvements can be made and the saved capital can be invested in other areas.

There is huge support for this new ordinance, and about 80 organizations in the city are in favor of measurement because they believe it is a step in the right direction for green buildings and energy consumption. There is also national attention from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, who have teams in each continent to take action against greenhouse gas emissions.

Other cities in the US have seen success with the Portfolio Manager, including New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, Boston, Seattle, Austin, and San Francisco. California and Washington participate statewide in this initiative.

Green Education Services is pleased to hear that Chicago is making such great strides to consider ways to save energy. Of the many classes we offer, we have a webinar about Introduction to Energy and Atmosphere, which provides an overview of the kinds of issues Chicago is going to monitor. To register for this class, please visit