- The Detroit City Council unanimously adopted an energy and water benchmarking policy for existing buildings as an integral component of the city’s climate strategy, according to a Nov. 22 news release.
- Beginning in 2024, the new policy mandates annual reporting of energy and water usage for all municipal, commercial and multifamily buildings over 100,000 gross square feet. Buildings that are 25,000 to 100,000 gross square feet will be required to report consumption data starting in 2025.
- Detroit is the latest in a growing cohort of cities including Chicago, Minneapolis and Columbus, Ohio — along with states like Maryland, Massachusetts and Minnesota — that are instituting mandatory energy and water benchmarking policies for buildings.
The Detroit Climate Strategy, released by the city’s Office of Sustainability on Nov. 22, has outlined near-term actions the city will need to take to reach a 50% reduction in carbon emissions from 2012 levels by 2034 and net-zero emissions by 2050. These measures include transitioning to clean energy, improving access to environmentally friendly transportation systems, ramping up energy efficiency and reducing waste.
The adoption of the new energy and water benchmarking policy follows extensive efforts the City Council Green Task Force’s Energy Waste Reduction Committee initiated in 2020 to incorporate equity into benchmarking efforts, Detroit said in its release. This ordinance is aimed at helping the city track consumption and identify areas for efficiency upgrades as a measure to curb greenhouse gas emissions, it said, pointing to 63% of GHG emissions coming from buildings across Detroit in 2018.
Data for the 2023 calendar year is due by Oct. 1, 2024, with subsequent annual data due by June 1 of every following year, the City Council said.
Analyzing a building's energy and water consumption is expected to result in decreased operational expenses for building owners and operators, generating additional savings for both themselves and tenants, the city has emphasized. Detroit has committed to offering free resources to private property owners subject to the ordinance to facilitate the benchmarking process.
Earlier this year, Minneapolis approved a Climate Equity Plan, which replaces a 2013 plan and lays out the same goal of cutting GHG emissions from industrial, commercial and multifamily buildings by 75% to ensure that all new city enterprise and city-funded buildings reach net-zero emissions status by 2030. Properties 100,000 square feet and larger in the Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott and Washington Counties, as well as in any city outside the metropolitan area with more than 50,000 residents, must also start reporting their energy use data by June 1, 2025. Properties in the range of 50,000 square feet to 99,999 square feet in these locations are mandated to report their consumption data by June 1, 2026.
Meanwhile, Maryland voted to adopt proposed regulations to cut greenhouse gas emissions and energy usage in commercial and multifamily buildings 35,000 square feet and larger, Maryland Matters reported. These measures will be implemented over the coming years, the Maryland Department of the Environment said, noting that it is targeting a 20% reduction in net GHG emissions by Jan. 1, 2030 and net-zero direct emissions by Jan. 1, 2040. Owners of covered buildings will need to report their emissions data to MDE each year beginning in 2025.
Denver, along with Boston and New York City, are working to implement financial penalties for noncompliance with building performance standards to accelerate decarbonization, according to an October report from CBRE, which points to growing statewide adoption of building performance standards.
David Borchardt, senior mechanical engineer at MD Energy Advisors, highlighted at the NFMT Remix Conference in Orlando in October that benchmarking can help facilities managers make informed decisions about building performance improvements. Knowing key metrics, such as gross square footage, occupancy and utility usage, places facilities managers in good stead in terms of understanding energy efficiency, which can ease the process of complying with evolving regulations, Borchardt said.