Adopt Municipal Benchmarking Ordinances

Benchmarking building energy performance is an important tool for realizing energy savings. Benchmarking informs businesses and other organizations about how they use energy, where they use it, and what drives their energy use. It provides information about opportunities to increase profitability by lowering energy costs and offers a reference point for gauging the effectiveness of energy management practices and insights for continuous improvement. Additionally, benchmarking gives governments information that can be used to set building codes and standards for the future. Consistent benchmarking translates into tangible energy savings: buildings that benchmark their energy use over three years save an average of 2.4 percent per year.

Local municipalities could consider benchmarking for performance monitoring and reporting purposes. The city of Atlanta passed the Commercial Buildings Energy Efficiency Ordinance in April 2015, becoming the first city in the Southeast to implement energy reduction targets for commercial buildings. The ordinance requires energy performance monitoring and reporting for all commercial buildings over 25,000 square feet, covering 2,350 buildings in the city (80 percent of the commercial sector). The city estimates that the policy will help create 1,000 jobs each year initially and reduce commercial energy use by 20 percent by 2030. The policy is also expected to cut 2013 carbon emissions levels in half by 2030. Other state municipalities could use the Atlanta ordinance as a blueprint for their own performance monitoring and reporting. Benchmarking could support state energy efficiency and smart building sectors, as well as help cities achieve significant environmental and economic benefits.