Kansas City Passes Energy Empowerment Ordinance to Reduce Energy Bills and Generate Jobs

The City Council of Kansas City, Mo., passed an Energy Empowerment Ordinance that 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 substantially reduce health-harming, climate-changing air pollution, according to the City Energy Project, a national initiative from the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

Buildings currently account for more than 70 percent of the Kansas City region’s total energy use. The Energy Empowerment Ordinance aims to reduce this use by raising awareness of building energy and water performance through information gleaned from programs and policies that measure a building’s energy and water consumption. Called “benchmarking,” these programs allow owners to examine their building’s performance over time and, in sharing this data with the city and the public, learn from other local buildings.

“Kansas City is the leader in energy efficiency for the Heartland,” says Melissa Wright, director of the City Energy Project at NRDC. “This city knows that tackling climate pollution from its largest source not only means public health and environmental benefits, but economic benefits as well. This new legislation will help building owners reduce their operational costs and combat health-harming pollution, all while adding millions to the city’s economy and creating more than a thousand local jobs.”

The Kansas City Energy Empowerment Ordinance addresses energy use in existing municipal, commercial and residential buildings larger than 50,000 square feet. Under the ordinance, these building owners will be required to track whole-building energy and water use and report it to the city annually.

Participating buildings will be phased in, starting with municipal buildings larger than 10,000 square feet in 2016, and expanding to include private commercial and multifamily residential buildings larger than 100,000 square feet in 2017. All private commercial and multifamily buildings larger than 50,000 square feet will be included in 2018.

Under the legislation, owners of the designated buildings will be required to annually benchmark and report to the city their properties’ energy use via the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager tool. That reported benchmarking data will be made available to the public on a phased schedule starting in 2016.

“Buildings remain the largest energy users in the U.S., and a significant amount of that energy is wasted by inefficient operations. Kansas City’s new benchmarking ordinance will bring transparency to the marketplace and give building owners, tenants and investors the actionable information they need to cut cutting waste and save money,” says Cliff Majersik, executive director of the IMT. “Kansas City is recognized for its affordability and quality of life. Taking this crucial step to improve the performance of its buildings will further help the city’s economy and ensures its reputation grows even stronger.”

The Energy Empowerment Ordinance is supported by the Kansas City Energy Project, part of Kansas City’s work with the City Energy Project, a national initiative from the IMT and NRDC that is developing locally tailored plans and programs to create healthier, more prosperous and more resilient cities by reducing carbon pollution from their largest source: buildings.

Other participating City Energy Project cities include Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Orlando, Philadelphia and Salt Lake City. By investing in building energy-efficiency programs and policies, in the year 2030 the City Energy Project participants are projected to cut pollution equivalent to taking 1.4 million cars off the road and save residents and businesses a combined total of nearly $1 billion annually on their energy bills.

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