BOMA Opposes Mandatory Energy Benchmarking Disclosure in Chicago

by | Jul 15, 2013

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ChicagoEven though the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International supports energy efficiency in buildings, it opposes mandatory energy benchmarking rules. Accordingly, BOMA/Chicago issued a statement in response to the City of Chicago’s proposed benchmarking ordinance:

“On June 26, 2013, Mayor Emanuel unveiled an energy benchmarking ordinance that, if passed by the City Council, would require municipal, commercial and residential properties over 50,000 square feet to track and publicly report their energy usage. BOMA/Chicago shares Mayor Emanuel’s passion and desire to make Chicago’s buildings as energy efficient as possible, and we believe having comprehensive data to benchmark, measure progress and drive value is essential. While we support Mayor Emanuel’s benchmarking ordinance, we believe the public disclosure mandate in the proposed ordinance will unfairly penalize and marginalize many older and historically significant buildings in Chicago. Frankly, not all of our members are Class A LEED Platinum. We represent many buildings that are doing what they can to improve their sustainability and energy efficiency, but still struggle with infrastructure limitations and the cost of retrofit work. Publishing the scores for buildings that simply cannot afford the work necessary to raise them will not ‘shame’ those buildings into achieving higher scores. It will simply impose yet another competitive burden on an already challenged sector.

“We are committed to working with Mayor Emanuel and the Chicago City Council to come to a reasonable compromise on this important issue. Benchmarking empowers building owners and managers with the knowledge to run their buildings as efficiently as possible, and we strongly support it. However, it shouldn’t come at the cost of jeopardizing older and historically significant buildings that make the CBD a unique and desirable place for businesses. We would rather see the many environmental achievements of our buildings celebrated.”

BOMA International and a consortium of real estate organizations facing a similar disclosure mandate in Boston commissioned a study co-authored by Harvard University environmental economist Robert Stavens that concluded there is no credible evidence that a regulatory approach like this is effective in achieving the goals for which such it is intended.

However, some criticized the study for being self-serving, and the mandatory benchmarking ordinance did pass in Boston.

BOMA International, itself, issued a list of the top-10 ways commercial real estate professionals can make energy efficiency and sustainability a priority, beginning with: Benchmark energy and water consumption through Energy Star Portfolio Manager.

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