October 8, 2017

Mayor Rahm Emanuel Announces Chicago Energy Rating System for Large Buildings

Proposal creates a four-star system rating the energy performance of buildings over 50,000 sq. ft.

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

Mayor Rahm Emanuel today proposed a Chicago Energy Rating System that makes energy use information for large buildings easily accessible to Chicagoans while encouraging energy savings. Once passed by City Council, the proposed ordinance will use buildings existing and publicly available energy data alongside recent energy improvements to rate buildings on a zero to four star scale. Buildings will be required to post ratings in a prominent location on the property, and share this information at the time of sale or lease listing. Chicago is one of the first US cities to assign buildings an energy performance rating and require properties to post their rating.
“By providing simplicity and transparency around building performance, we are giving Chicagoans the tools to better understand energy consumption,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “This updated ordinance will help drive cost-saving measures for energy efficiency, and will support the development of 21st century jobs for local residents and businesses.”
Large buildings are one of the most significant contributors to greenhouse gases in Chicago, comprising 20% of the city’s carbon emissions and spending over $650 million annually in energy costs.  The proposal builds on the City’s existing Energy Benchmarking Ordinance, which requires buildings over 50,000 square feet to measure and report energy use once per year. These buildings currently receive a 1-100 ENERGY STAR score from the US Environmental Protection Agency, based on that building’s energy performance versus like buildings around the country while taking into account occupancy, operational characteristics and Chicago’s climate zone. Buildings that have complied for two or three consecutive years to date have saved an estimated $17.8 million in energy costs per year and have reduced weather normalized energy use by up to 4 percent.
The Rating applies to the 3,500 properties already required to annually benchmark energy data, and imposes no additional cost. It will use the building’s most recent score and recent energy improvements to calculate the star rating.  Buildings with one to three stars can earn an additional star by improving their ENERGY STAR score by 10 points or more.  If all buildings with ENERGY STAR scores below 90 were to improve their scores by only 10 points to earn one additional star in the new Rating, buildings would see savings of over $70 million per year.  In addition the investments needed to achieve these savings would generate over 1,000 clean energy jobs.
“The work we do with Chicagoans everyday on smarter energy use helps to create jobs and reduce our environmental footprint,” said Anne Evens, CEO of Elevate Energy. “The Mayor's Chicago Energy Rating System increases transparency to building owners and tenants of their energy use which will help spur investments in our city's buildings.”
While reporting will continue to be mandated, buildings will not be required to make changes to improve energy efficiency. Buildings that do not comply with the energy benchmarking ordinance will receive zero out of four stars. In addition to posting the star rating publicly on site and providing it at the time of sale or lease, the City will post ratings on the Chicago Data Portal. More information on the current benchmarking ordinance and the Mayor’s Energy Rating System can be found at www.CityofChicago.org/EnergyBenchmarking.
"As Chicago expands its energy efficiency benchmarking ordinance, the city is demonstrating global leadership towards fighting climate change,” said Jen Walling, Executive Director, Illinois Environmental Council. “Energy efficiency is an inexpensive, consumer friendly way to reduce carbon emissions from buildings.  The expanded ordinance will give building owners and tenants more information and greater ability to lower bills and reduce environmental impacts."
The Chicago Energy Rating Systems builds upon Chicago’s strategy to reduce harmful carbon pollution. In April, the Mayor announced that by 2025 all of Chicago’s public buildings will be powered by 100 percent renewable energy. That transition means that eight percent of the city-wide electricity load or 1.8 billion kilowatt hours will come from clean and renewable sources. This follows the 2013 commitment that the City made to eliminating coal from its electricity supply.
Earlier this year, the City of Chicago was awarded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 2017 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year Award. The award is given annually to honor organizations that have made outstanding contributions to protecting the environment through energy efficiency and recognized the four years of successful implementation of the City’s Energy Benchmarking Ordinance. The award also recognized the Retrofit Chicago Energy Challenge and its 79 member buildings covering 53.1 million square feet-all of which have committed to reducing their energy use by 20 percent.
In July, the City of Chicago was ranked number one in the nation for energy efficiency office buildings, according to the 2017 National Green Building Adoption Index published by CBRE Group Inc. and Maastricht University. The city increased its percentage of green office space square footage by 6.5 percent in the last year, growing LEED or Energy Star certified city office buildings to 66 percent. The study ranked 30 of the largest real estate markets in the country and specifically cites Mayor Emanuel’s Benchmarking Ordinance and other aggressive policy measures as catalysts for green building expansion.