Energy Benchmarking

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On September 11, 2013, the Chicago City Council passed the ordinance on energy benchmarking requiring landlords to show how much energy their buildings use. The new law requires the owners of commercial, residential and municipal buildings in Chicago to track energy consumption and report the findings to the city. The ordinance does not require buildings to improve energy consumption, just report it. Mayor Rahm Emanuel supported the measure and the opposition block was not able to stop it. The ordinance passed the City Council in a 32-17 vote.

The measure was criticized by some members of the local commercial real estate industry, like BOMA, which made it clear in a statement that public disclosure of low scores will only put low scoring buildings at a further disadvantage and potentially jeopardize their ability to attract and retain tenants.

While other local commercial property executives supported the bill, Ald. Brendan Reilly proposed a new ordinance to exempt residential properties from the rule. The proposal was sent to the Finance Committee, where it is unclear if it will receive a hearing. As part of a compromise from the mayor’s office, it was announced that residential building owners were given an extra year to collect and disclose the information after some building owners expressed concern that collecting energy information from individual tenants could prove onerous.

Buildings larger than 250,000 square feet must start reporting energy use by June, 2014 and structures that are between 50,000 and 250,000 square feet will start reporting in June 2015. Residential buildings that fall within both size ranges will have an extra year to comply with the law.

Any parties interested in supporting Ald. Reilly’s proposed new ordinance should contact Matthew Link, Legal Counsel for the Finance Committee, in Finance Committee Chairman Ed Burke’s office and request working with them on moving it forward. Anyone wishing to contact the mayor’s office should contact Matt Hynes, Director of Intergovernmental Affairs.

Please refer to the latest legislation for updates on dates and deadlines.