City report finds potential for energy savings among largest buildings

A new study analyzing the energy use of the city’s largest public and commercial buildings found the potential for avoiding 120,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions if the buildings increased energy efficiency by 15 percent.

The latest Energy Benchmarking Report reviewed the energy use of 429 public and commercial buildings. The report also concluded that the buildings could save $24 million in energy costs annually if energy efficiency was collectively improved by 15 percent.

The report analyzed energy use in 2014. Combined, the buildings surveyed include 96 million square feet of floor space and use as much energy as roughly 89,000 households — about half of the homes in the city.

Overall, the buildings included in the report account for 17 percent of the city’s citywide greenhouse gas emissions. City leaders have set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Minneapolis 30 percent by 2025 and 80 percent by 2050 based on 2006 levels.

Commercial and industrial buildings’ energy use in Minneapolis makes up about 46 percent of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The median Energy Star score for the public buildings in the report was 68 and 78 for private buildings. The Energy Star program developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency measures how buildings perform compared to similar buildings nationwide. A score of 75 or higher means a building is a top performer in terms of energy efficiency and is eligible for Energy Star certification.

Hospitals and places of worship showed the most potential for improvements in energy efficiency, according to the report.

Mayor Betsy Hodges kicked off an energy challenge for the city’s largest commercial buildings in October and recently honored high performers in energy efficiency.

The challenges asks buildings to commit to a 15 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions 15 percent by 2020 through energy efficient improvements and increased use of renewable energy. Buildings larger than 50,000 square feet can participate in the challenge.