“This ordinance will help to capture the information to enable better informed real estate decisions and unlock the market for energy efficiency. We believe that this ordinance addresses key business and policy priorities in our sector, including saving money, creating local jobs, protecting our health, and promot[ing] Chicago’s position as a leading sustainable city to attract new business and succeed in the global market place.”
– Commercial and Residential Real Estate Management Executive
“Energy efficiency is not a passing fad; it has become a core value and operating principle for many of Chicago’s largest corporate tenants, condo owners, and residential tenants.”
– Commercial and Residential Real Estate Manager
“Energy [benchmarking and] disclosure [across our management portfolio of more than 1,000 buildings] has helped [condominium] board members feel comfortable making decisions to improve efficiency because they have more accurate data on which to base their decision. They are also able to better quantify the investment and return they will generate. We have found that the more informed owners are about their building’s environmental impact, the more empowered they are to improve it.”
– Residential Portfolio Director of Operations
In September 2013, Mayor Emanuel and Chicago’s City Council adopted a building energy benchmarking ordinance to raise awareness of energy performance through information and transparency, with the goal of unlocking energy and cost savings opportunities for businesses and residents.
The ordinance calls on existing municipal, commercial, and residential buildings larger than 50,000 square feet to track whole-building energy use, report to the City annually, and verify data accuracy every three years. The law covers less than 1% of Chicago’s buildings, which together account for ~20% of total energy used by all buildings.
Improving energy efficiency is a key element of Sustainable Chicago 2015, Mayor Emanuel’s 3-year action agenda to make Chicago more livable, competitive, and sustainable.
The full text of the ordinance can be found here.
The first compliance deadline is June 1, 2014 for municipal and commercial buildings larger than 250,000 square feet. Benchmarking, verification, and reporting deadlines for additional buildings covered by the ordinance will phase-in through 2016.
Please check this website for updates on the ordinance, compliance guidance, support, and training opportunities.
Thank you to all who submitted comments on the draft Chicago Energy Benchmarking Rules and Regulations during the City's public comment period (January 31-February 14, 2014).
Final ordinance rules and regulations will be posted here in March.
Please email additional questions or comments to ChicagoEnergyBenchmarking@cityofchicago.org.
The Chicago energy benchmarking ordinance focuses on creating information that will enable better decision-making. It does not require buildings to make any mandatory investment. The ordinance has three parts:
First-time benchmarking, verification, and reporting deadlines will phase-in over 3 years, based on building size and sector, according to the following timeline:
The City will report annually on aggregate energy efficiency trends, and the ordinance authorizes the City to share building-specifc data with the public after an initial grace period of one year.
The ordinance applies to existing municipal, commercial, and residential buildings larger than 50,000 square feet, with initial compliance deadlines based on size and sector.
Building size is defined as gross square footage - the total number of square feet measured between the exterior fixed walls of a building. This includes common spaces, private spaces, vent shafts, elevator shafts, flues, pipe shafts, vertical ducts, stairwells, light wells, basement space, mechanical or electrical rooms, and interior parking garages.
Building occupancy is determined by how space is used within a building. The benchmarking ordinance applies to residential, institutional, assembly, schools, businesses, and mercantile units, as well as spaces with mixed occupancy or auxiliary use.
For purposes of determining initial compliance timing, any covered building with 10% or more of its gross square footage classified as residential occupancy use (any combination of Class A residential units, as defined by Chapter 13-56 of the Chicago Municipal Code) will adhere to the compliance deadlines for residential buildings.
The benchmarking ordinance does not apply to any building with more than 10 percent occupancy use classified as Class D open air assembly units, Class G industrial units, Class H storage units, Class I hazardous use units, or Class J miscellaneous buildings and structures, as defined by Chapter 13-56.
Additional information on building occupancy classifications is available in the Municipal Code of Chicago Chapter 13-56.
The energy benchmarking ordinance requires owners of covered buildings to report whole-building data on annual energy use. There are three primary sources for these data, including: request whole-building energy use directly from utilities, compile energy data directly from utility bills (when the building owner / manager is the accountholder), or request data from tenants (only in rare cases when other sources are not available).
Owners and managers of covered buildings are strongly encouraged to take advantage of data aggregation services provided to covered buildings at no additional charge.
Electricity - ComEd: ComEd's Energy Usage Data System (EUDS) allows building owners and property managers to retrieve aggregate energy usage data for multi-tenant commercial and residential buildings. EUDS instructions and enrollment forms are available at www.ComEd.com/EnergyTools.
Natural Gas - Peoples Gas: Peoples Gas offers aggregated natural gas use data for buildings covered by the energy benchmarking ordinance. A link to instructions and information request forms are available at http://www.peoplesgasdelivery.com/business/aggregation.aspx.
Chicago Energy Benchmarking Help Center:
The Chicago Energy Benchmarking Help Center provides phone and email support for all questions related to the ordinance:
Free Chicago Energy Benchmarking Training:
The City of Chicago and its partners will be offering free in-person and web-based training to support buildings covered by the Chicago Energy Benchmarking Ordinance.
These courses will provide background and technical knowledge to help covered buildings comply with the ordinance and access other energy efficiency resources.
Free training will begin in March; course schedules and registration details will be posted here.
Local training is offered in partnership with the US Green Building Council (USGBC-IL), the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (MEEA), the American Institute of Architects (AIA-Chicago), the Illinois Chapter of the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE IL), and the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA).
US EPA ENERGY STAR Resources:
The US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) offers free online resources to help buildings get started with energy benchmarking, including:
Upcoming US EPA training opportunities (please check back here as additional training events are added):
Utility Incentives and Technical Support: In 2007, the State of Illinois passed legislation requiring energy utilities to set aside ratepayer funds to invest in energy efficiency. The resulting utility incentives expand opportunities for buildings to pursue subsidized energy efficiency improvements that save money and energy:
More than 85 organizations have publicly supported this ordinance, including leaders across Chicago’s real estate, energy, and public interest communities. A list of benchmarking benefits and public supporters can be found here.