Kansas City, Missouri Resoundingly Passes a Benchmarking and Transparency Ordinance for Large Buildings


Kansas City, Missouri has just joined the prestigious collection of progressive American cities with a benchmarking and transparency ordinance for large existing buildings. Fittingly entitled the Energy Empowerment Ordinance, Kansas City's city council voted 12-1 to pass this ordinance, which will require buildings of 50,000 square feet or more to benchmark their energy and water use and report the data to the City. The City will then share that data with the public online, empowering building owners, tenants, investors, and the business community with the information they need to make better choices when it comes to building energy and water use.

This kind of building information is critical. Buildings currently account for more than 70 percent of the Kansas City region's total energy use and carbon emissions. The Energy Empowerment Ordinance could cumulatively reduce energy bills in the city's largest buildings by $394 million and generate more than 1,000 jobs by 2030, as well as reduce carbon pollution.

A recent study showed a benchmarking policy like the one Kansas City has just passed has led to consistent energy reductions each year the ordinance has been in place, totaling a 6 percent reduction in energy use over four years. These results show that just having the information available about a building's energy performance empowers building owners to take steps to reduce energy use.

Participating buildings will be phased into benchmarking compliance. Municipal buildings over 10,000 square feet will be required to submit benchmarking data through ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager in May 2016. Then private commercial, institutional, and multifamily residential buildings over 100,000 square feet will comply by May 2017. All private commercial and multifamily buildings over 50,000 square feet will comply in May 2018. Early compliance will be encouraged to help building owners become familiar with the process of benchmarking before their official compliance deadlines. Also, since the first year of benchmarking data for private buildings is not disclosed to the public, there is plenty of time available should building owners choose to make any improvements to their buildings' performance before scores are made public.

With efforts such as the street car, smart city initiative, and now the Energy Empowerment Ordinance, Kansas City is showcasing what it means to be an engaging and sustainable city of the future.

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