10 Things You Need to Know About the Chicago Energy Benchmarking Ordinance

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Want to learn more about your buildings, spend less on energy and contribute to a greener Chicago? Read on to become a Chicago energy benchmarking expert.

1. Was there a deadline extension? Yes, recently, the city of Chicago extended the energy benchmarking compliance deadline for buildings by two months, from June 1st to August 1st, 2015. While there are still a few weeks left to comply, it’s a multi-step process that takes some getting used to, so we suggest getting started right away! 

2. What's the purpose of Chicago Energy Use Benchmarking Ordinance? Chicago’s biggest buildings, which make up less than 1% of the total count, use about 20% of city’s total building energy use. The ordinance was implemented in 2013 with the over-arching goal of reducing energy consumption in the city. Benchmarking will serve to increase awareness, positively influence building energy decisions and contribute to the transparency of energy information. Ideally, the ordinance will provide savings to both property owners and tenants and play a significant role in reaching the goals of the Sustainable Chicago 2015 Action Agenda.

3. Who is impacted? All commercial and municipal buildings greater than 50,000 square feet and all residential buildings greater than 250,000 square feet will eventually be required to submit their information. Here is the Chicago energy benchmarking timeline of when buildings will first have to comply:

4. When is the 2015 deadline?  This year, all municipal and commercial buildings above 50,000 square feet and multifamily buildings above 250,000 square feet must submit reports by August 1st. Next year the deadline will be June 1st and all municipal, commercial and multifamily buildings above 50,000 square feet must comply.

5. What are the fines?  The starting fine for non-compliance is $100 and will then be $25 per day.

6. What do you need for your submission? There are three parts required for your submission: benchmarking, verifying energy data, and reporting to the city. Benchmarking is required annually through the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager® tool. Next, your energy data must be verified the first year of compliance and every three years after by a licensed or trained professional. Then, your building and energy data must be submitted to the city using the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager® tool.

7. How to use Portfolio Manager. The EPA’s Portfolio Manager® is the free online tool used to submit the compliance report. You input your building's characteristics information and upload your building's utility usage data, which is used to assess its energy efficiency. It also can provide you with an ENERGY STAR® score. WegoWise syncs with Portfolio Manager so we can help you submit reports and keep Portfolio Manager up-to-date moving forward.

8. Preparing for 2016.  In 2016, residential buildings from 50,000 to 250,000 will be phased into the ordinance. This is a much larger group of buildings, so if you own or manage a portfolio, be aware that this may affect more of your buildings.

9. Who can help you? You are not alone! You can outsource compliance reporting to a third party like WegoWise, energy experts who have gone through the benchmarking process countless time. Plus, you get a free year of the WegoWise platform for in depth energy efficiency analysis and automated utility tracking.  If you're a DIYer and have some time to burn, the city offers weekly training sessions

10. I benchmarked my buildings. Now what? Benchmarking not a pointless exercise! Benchmarking your buildings is a valuable activity that can provide actionable information about your portfolio. You will now know how your buildings stack up to other similar buildings and what operational areas can be improved.

Hopefully you're now on the path to becoming a benchmarking pro. If you think you'd rather hand compliance over to the experts, we can help. Just complete this form to learn more about WegoWise benchmarking compliance services.

Are you preparing to comply with a local energy-disclosure law? Find out what WegoWise can do for you.