Council considers collecting housing efficiency data

The Minneapolis City Council is considering altering the city’s pre-sale housing inspection program to include the collection of data on a home’s energy efficiency.

Council Members Jeremy Schroeder (Ward 11) and Cam Gordon (Ward 2) have proposed requiring the city’s licensed truth-in-sale-of-housing inspectors to collect data on a home’s insulation, windows, heating system and air sealing. The TISH inspectors would be required to summarize that data into a single energy-efficiency rating, which homeowners would be required to display for prospective buyers.

Under the proposal, homeowners would be responsible for the additional cost of collecting the energy-efficiency information, according to Kim Havey, the city’s sustainability manager. He said in an email that the city hopes to keep the costs as low as possible but that it may cost $75 to $125 more for the energy inspection.

Homeowners would be exempt from the energy inspection if they get an assessment from Xcel Energy’s and CenterPoint Energy’s Home Energy Squad within two years of selling, Havey said. He noted that the city’s sustainability office is offering no-cost Home Energy Squad visits through the Center for Energy and Environment to Minneapolis residents who sign up by Dec. 31. Some neighborhood groups and the utilities also discount the Home Energy Squad visits to $100 or less.

The proposal comes as the city continues working toward the goals of its 2013 climate action plan, which include reducing greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent by 2025 compared to 2006. Residential buildings accounted for one-fifth of emissions in Minneapolis in 2010, according to the plan, which called for the creation of a residential energy-disclosure program. A more recent report from the Center for Energy and Environment said that Minneapolis homeowners could cut nearly 52,000 tons in carbon dioxide emissions annually by making efficiency improvements.

Havey said research indicates people are most likely to make home improvements either right before selling or right after purchasing a new house. The goal of the proposal, he said, would be in part to get more people to make energy-efficiency improvements to their homes during these times.

He said the city is hoping to work with Multiple Listing Service, Northstar Multiple Listing Service and local Realtors to make homes’ summative ratings available on their websites.

The city is also considering a proposal that would require rental property owners to provide renters with a building’s average per-unit energy use at the time of lease. In addition, it’s considering extending its commercial energy-benchmarking ordinance to cover large multifamily buildings that are at least 50,000 square feet.

Visit minneapolismn.gov/sustainability/buildings-energy/index.htm to learn more about the proposals.

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