Energy and Water Benchmarking for a Sustainable City

Across the country in large cities, buildings often account for most of the energy use and carbon pollution.

A greenhouse gas emissions inventory in the City of Des Moines found that 35 percent of the City's greenhouse gas emissions comes from large buildings. As part of a long-term greenhouse gas reduction effort, the Des Moines City Council passed the Energy and Water Benchmarking Ordinance in June of 2019. The ordinance requires owners of commercial, multifamily and municipal buildings 25,000 sq. ft. or larger to benchmark and submit their energy and water usage to the City annually by May 1.  

Benchmarking a building is simply measuring its energy and water use and using that data to compare its performance over time as well as to compare it to similar buildings. It allows owners and occupants to understand their building’s relative energy and water performance as well as waste.  

"This gives an inventory and let's a building owner know how that building is performing compared to similar buildings," shares Ward III City Council Member Josh Mandelbaum. "That is a key part of what benchmarking helps accomplish, because benchmarking allows those owners to know that there are opportunities for energy and dollar savings."

This information can be used to help building owners make strategic decisions that will potentially save money and energy while improving comfort and health. It can also provide further insight to the City, utility companies and other agencies as to where areas of assistance may be needed.

Building owners are not required to make improvements based on reported energy and water usage. The value of benchmarking comes from increasing overall awareness of energy and water waste and finding sustainable solutions.

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