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Chicago To Implement Energy Rating System




Energy benchmarking ordinances continue to see success in cities and states all over the country. According to data from the Institute for Market Transformation, there are 25 energy benchmarking ordinances on the books – some of which, like in New York City and Austin, Texas, also require energy audits and/or retrocommissioning. These benchmarking ordinances have been instrumental in helping reduce energy use in buildings.

The City of Chicago passed its own energy benchmarking ordinance in 2013. The goal was to help reduce energy use buildings larger than 50,000 square feet. Buildings are required to report energy use annually. Simply having the law on the books, advocates say, has resulted in a 4 percent reduction in energy use in these buildings.

Late last year, Chicago proposed an update to its energy benchmarking ordinance to add a rating system for buildings. The goal is to “provide a more accessible way for the public to understand how buildings are working to reduce their energy use.” The rating system awards zero to four stars based on Energy Star score and on the following rating system:

  • Zero stars: Out of compliance with energy benchmarking (no report sent to the City)  One star: 1-40 points
  • Two stars: 41-60 points OR a score of 11-40 points and a 10 point improvement in the past 2 years
  • Three stars: 61-80 points OR a score of 41-60 points and a 10 point improvement in the past 2 years
  • Four stars: 81-100 points OR a score of 61-80 points and a 10 point improvement in the past 2 years 


The Chicago Energy Rating System goes into effect in 2019. Adding this rating system to the Chicago Benchmarking Ordinance complements the city’s Paris Climate Accord goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 26-28 percent by 2025.

This Quick Read was submitted by Greg Zimmerman, executive editor, Building Operating Management. Read his cover story on how sustainability and resilience complement each other.

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