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A Look At Chicago's Proposed Energy Disclosure Ordinance

Today's tip of the day is about Chicago's proposed energy disclosure ordinance.

In his two-and-a-half years as Chicago mayor, Rahm Emanuel has had no shortage of confrontation. He's gone head-to-head with the Chicago Teacher's Union, he's taken on Wrigleyville residents opposed to upgrades to Wrigley Field and the surrounding area, and now he's taking on the Chicago chapter of the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA).

The mayor has proposed an energy disclosure ordinance that would require residential and commercial buildings over 50,000 square feet to use Energy Star's Portfolio Manager to benchmark energy use. Owners would be required to report to the city on annual basis, and the data could be disclosed to the public in the second year. While there is no requirement in the ordinance for improvement, the ordinance is part of the mayor’s plan to cut Chicago energy use 30 percent by 2020.

BOMA Chicago released a statement opposing the ordinance. The statement, in part, says: "While we support Mayor Emanuel's benchmarking ordinance, we believe the public disclosure mandate in the proposed ordinance will unfairly penalize and marginalize many older and historically significant buildings in Chicago."

Recently, the ordinance passed a city council committee with an 11-2 vote. However, the full council vote was delayed because of objections similar to those brought on by BOMA Chicago. Two council members expressed concern about the cost of the ordinance to building owners, according to this story in Midwest Energy News.

The ordinance isn't dissimilar from energy benchmarking and disclosure ordinances that have already gone live in other cities, like Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and New York City, and states like California and Washington. (This handy chart from the Institute for Market Transformation compares cities' and states' laws.) Many of the other laws include public disclosure, and most of them also use the free (and recently revamped) Portfolio Manager benchmarking tool.


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