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To encourage property owners to manage and improve energy efficiency, the Chicago city council passed Municipal Code 18-14 on Sept. 12, requiring large buildings to benchmark their energy use for public disclosure.

Also known as the “Building Energy Use Benchmarking Ordinance,” Code 18-14 covers an estimated 3,500 commercial, multifamily and public sector buildings, representing less than 1 percent of the city’s buildings but 22 percent of total energy consumption. Merchandise Mart, Willis Tower, Chicago Public Schools and residential buildings with 50,000 square feet or more are covered by the ordinance. Reporting requirements begin June 1, 2014 or June 1, 2015 based on building size.

“The passage of this ordinance steps up the competition for commercial building energy performance,” said Ken Anno, founder and managing partner, CIC Energy Consulting LLC. “It is an important step in realizing the city’s goal to reduce energy usage by 30 percent in half of Chicago buildings by 2020.”

Representing the single largest operating expense in commercial office buildings, energy costs are second only to personnel costs for K-12 school district operating budgets. The ordinance is a part of a national regulatory trend to reduce the consumption of energy by commercial buildings, which account for 36 percent of all electricity produced in the U.S. and 17 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), $107.9 billion is spent annually on energy by commercial buildings, with over 30 percent wasted or inefficiently used. This Chicago benchmarking requirement follows similar ordinances in New York, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Seattle and San Francisco. Approximately 80 Chicago real estate, energy and environment agencies backed the Chicago ordinance. The city has estimated the cost of compliance at $1,000 over two years for most buildings.

CIC Energy provides building owners with outsourced data collection and benchmarking services in accordance with standards set forth under American Society of Testing Materials (“ASTM”) E-2797-11 Standard Practice for Building Energy Performance Assessment for a Building Involved in a Real Estate Transaction (“BEPA”). CIC Energy performs all tasks necessary to ensure timely and accurate benchmarking in compliance with Municipal Code 18-14.

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