Chicago requiring building owners to disclose energy usage

Chicago is now requiring building owners to disclose energy usage in an effort cut energy use of Chicago buildings by 30% in 2020.


Chicago is now requiring building owners to disclose energy usage in an effort cut energy use of Chicago buildings by 30 percent in 2020. Courtesy: Cannon DesignThe Chicago City Council passed a measure requiring owners of large buildings to disclose how much energy their buildings use and how they measure up against their peers this week with a 32-17 vote. It’s part of the city’s effort to cut energy use in half of Chicago buildings by 30% by 2020.

Regulatory measures like the one Chicago passed are becoming more and more commonplace. The management and evaluation of energy use in the built environment on a large scale is a complex endeavor due to the unpredictable nature of occupancy schedules, building operation and occupant behavior, among other issues. Establishing energy benchmarks is critical to the development of more accurate energy models as well the creation of building and energy code guidelines that promote higher building performance. Energy modeling and other energy use estimation tools are valuable in the design and operation of energy using building systems. However, energy modeling is only as accurate as its operational assumptions, modeling tools and team skill level.

Two powerful practices currently being implemented in the evaluation of building energy use are:

  • The comparison of predicted to actual energy use
  • Utility use disclosure requirements in United States municipalities (i.e. the resolution passed by the Chicago City Council)

The simple truth is that these two important practices will be linked moving forward due to their impact on the design, operation and evaluation of energy use in facilities. Kudos to Chicago for taking a step in this direction and pushing us a little bit closer to a more sustainable future.

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