The Edina City Council approved an efficient building benchmarking ordinance at its June 4 meeting.

It will require owners of existing commercial and multi-family buildings over 25,000 square feet to benchmark their buildings’ energy use through the Environmental Protection Agency’s online Energy Star Portfolio Manager. Edina is the 31st city in the nation and the second in Minnesota to require benchmarking through this program.

“Sixty percent of Edina’s energy use is in building uses. Green building policies can help build new buildings in an energy efficient way, but how are we ensuring that the buildings already built have the information at hand to make informed decisions to operate their building in an energy-efficient way?” asked Sustainability Manager Tara Brown.

This ordinance is one way Edina is working to improve energy use in commercial buildings throughout the city.

The ordinance will enable the city to collect and share data on energy use of large buildings to offer guidance to building owners on sustainability updates and policies. Hennepin County has organized a collaborative and, through a request for proposals, identified a consultant that will help manage and successfully administer the benchmarking program. In addition, CenterPoint Energy and Xcel Energy have recently made updates to their system which will now allow building owners to automatically send energy use information to Energy Star Portfolio Manager. Energy Star Portfolio Manager then compares the energy use of the building to similar buildings and gives it a benchmarking score, similar to the Energy Star labels consumers see when shopping for appliances.

“Knowledge is power. Benchmarking gives building owners and the public a new tool to understand and promote energy efficiency,” said Carolyn Jackson, chair of the Edina Energy & Environment Commission, which helped lead this initiative.

Building owners will receive training and onboarding support to this program through the consultant and will have access to a helpline and an online help portal. More information about the program will be mailed to businesses in early 2020.

“This program shows 1-2 percent savings annually. This means there is savings available to those building owners and property managers who make those energy efficiency changes. It promotes investment in current buildings,” said Brown. “We saw the opportunity that this program offered, and Edina saw it was the right time to enact these procedures.

For more information, contact Brown at tbrown@EdinaMN.gov.

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