BEY-Design can assist you in developing a strategy for data collection, verifying and complying with the new benchmarking ordinance. No time to waste, first reporting deadline is June 1, 2014.

 

Brief History

 

On September 11, 2013, the Chicago City Council voted 32 to 17 to approve the Building Energy Use Benchmarking Ordinance, which became effective on September 21, 2013. The City of Chicago joins eight other cities and two states that currently require energy benchmarking (New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, Boston, Seattle, Austin and San Francisco and the States of California and Washington).

 

Under the Ordinance, approximately 3,500 residential, commercial and municipal buildings within Chicago, 50,000 gross square feet and greater, are required to track, verify and file energy consumption and report such data annually to the Chicago Commissioner of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection. The Commissioner will make building-specific energy use information available to the general public, current and prospective tenants, buyers and investors for all years after the initial reporting year.

 

The ordinance is intended to motivate building owners to develop a strategy and implement energy efficiency upgrades in order to save money, be more attractive to owners and tenants, and enhance the valuation of their property.

 

Benchmarking Ordinance Overview

 

Key elements of the ordinance every building owner, property manager and tenant should know.

 

The first benchmarking reports are due according to the following schedule:

 

  • For covered buildings containing 250,000 gross square feet, or more, (referred to as “Group 1 covered buildings”), the first benchmarking report is due on June 1, 2014, except that the first benchmarking report for a Group 1 covered building with 10% or more residential occupancy is due on June 1, 2015.
  • For covered buildings containing between 50,000 and 250,000 gross square feet (referred to as “Group 2 covered buildings”), the first benchmarking report is due on June 1, 2015, except that the first benchmarking report for a Group 2 covered building with 10% or more residential occupancy is due on June 1, 2016.

 

The first benchmarking report for all covered buildings, and the benchmarking report for each third year thereafter, must be verified with an affidavit, signed and stamped by an Illinois-licensed architect, attesting to accuracy of data.

 

Buildings Subject to the Ordinance

 

The Ordinance applies to any building or group of buildings that have the same property identification number with 50,000 gross square feet or more.

 

However, buildings containing more than 10% “use” in the following classifications are excluded from the Ordinance: 

  • Class D open air assembly units
  • Class G industrial units
  • Class H storage units
  • Class I hazardous use units
  • Class J miscellaneous buildings and structures

 

All other buildings, with at least 50,000 gross square feet, are considered “covered buildings” and are therefore subject to the Ordinance, including the following: 

  • Class A: residential units (including condominium buildings, apartment buildings, Hotels, dormitories, etc.)
  • Class B: institutional units (including hospitals, nursing homes, sheltered care facilities, day care centers, etc.)
  • Class C: assembly units (including assembly halls, churches, funeral parlors, motion picture houses, nightclubs, restaurants, schools, taverns, theaters, etc.)
  • Class E: business units (including administration buildings, banks, offices, technology centers, etc.)
  • Class F: mercantile units (including enclosed mall shopping centers, markets, retail stores, sales rooms, shops, wholesale stores, etc.)

 

Tenant Cooperation and Noticing

 

Tenants of covered buildings are required to provide, within 30 days after the building owner’s request, all information that cannot be otherwise acquired by the building owner that is necessary for the building owner to comply with the Ordinance.  The building owner must request the information no later than March 1 of the years in which the benchmarking is required.  If the tenant notifies the building owner of the tenant’s intent to vacate, the owner must request the information from the tenant within 10 days after such notice to the building owner.  A tenant’s failure to provide the information requested by the building owner does not relieve the owner of the obligation to benchmark the building using all information otherwise available to the owner.  In such case, the owner will be considered in compliance with the Ordinance if (i) the owner proves that it has requested the information from the tenant and (ii) the owner has benchmarked the building using all information otherwise available to the owner.

 

The reportable benchmarking information includes, without limitation, the building identification number, address, square footage, energy performance score, energy use intensity and annual greenhouse gas emissions.

 

Other Exemptions

 

The Commissioner may exempt from the benchmarking requirement the owner of a covered building that submits documentation, in a form prescribed by rule, establishing any of the following:

  • The building is experiencing qualifying financial distress by reason of (i) the building being subject to a qualified tax lien sale or public auction due to property tax arrearages, (ii) the building being controlled by a court-appointed receiver or (iii) the building being acquired by a deed in lieu of foreclosure.
  • The building had average physical occupancy of less than 50% throughout the calendar year for which benchmarking is required.
  • The building is new construction and the building’s certificate of occupancy was issued during the calendar year for which benchmarking is required.

 

The Commissioner may exempt from the verification requirement the owner of a covered building that submits information establishing that compliance with the verification requirements would cause undue financial hardship.

 

Enforcement

 

The Commissioner is authorized to enforce the Ordinance and to adopt rules and regulations under the Ordinance.  Any person in violation of the Ordinance is subject to a fine of up to $100.00 for the first violation and an additional fine of $25.00 for each day that the violation continues.