The proposed Ann Arbor bill requires large buildings to disclose energy data
ANN ARBOR, MI – With buildings being the single largest consumer of energy, accounting for about two-thirds of Ann Arbor’s greenhouse gas emissions, city governments are striving to make them more efficient.
The city council unanimously decided this week to approve a new regulation introducing reporting requirements for energy and water consumption in large buildings.
It is proposed by the city’s sustainability office as part of Ann Arbor’s 2030 A2Zero carbon neutrality initiative.
“This is exciting for the city as it can begin to learn about how our buildings are working and allow people to make more informed and informed decisions about where to upgrade and where they might want to live in the future,” said Councilor Erica Briggs, D-5th Ward.
The law aims to give prospective and current tenants access to more information about the relative cost of ownership of rental properties to enable them to make more informed choices while encouraging efficiency improvements that can save money and energy from building owners.
Building owners and local residents currently have no idea how they are doing in terms of energy efficiency, said Mayor Christopher Taylor.
“This benchmarking program will be an important step forward in enabling tenants, property owners and potential property owners to understand what they are getting into and take steps to reduce their carbon footprint, which is fully in line with our goal, of course agrees. “Community-wide carbon neutrality by 2030,” he said.
The Council will hold a public hearing on October 18 before giving final approval.
The requirements for reporting on energy and water consumption would allow owners and residents to evaluate the use of a building over time and benchmark comparisons with similar buildings, the sustainability bureau staff told the council.
The city plans to create a public website that will showcase benchmarking data, with efficiency data for buildings similar to miles-per-gallon ratings for cars.
The ordinance contains reporting requirements for buildings that are owned, rented by or managed by the city and that are over 10,000 square meters in size, as well as for buildings owned by others that are over 20,000 square meters in size, including commercial buildings, condominiums and apartment buildings.
Single-family houses, semi-detached houses as well as state and federal buildings are excluded from the ordinance.
The city is working on a separate ordinance for single- and two-family houses that would require disclosure of information at the time of sale or marketing.
The Board of Regulations this week initially called OK’d to gradually roll out annual reporting requirements, starting with the city’s own buildings in December, buildings over 100,000 square feet next June, buildings over 50,000 square feet in June 2023, and buildings over 20,000 square feet in June 2024.
Violations of the regulation would result in fines of up to $ 500 for an initial violation and $ 1,000 for each subsequent violation, plus legal costs.
With energy and water bills accounting for an average of 26.8% of the running costs of office buildings across the country, and data showing that 30% of the energy consumed in buildings is used inefficiently or unnecessarily, efficiency gains can help building owners and tenants significantly reduce their utility bills Sustainability Office maintains.
Councilor Jeff Hayner, D-1st Ward, said there was great progress to be made on existing buildings but also suggests getting estimated energy and water usage data for new developments as soon as they are pending approval.
“It seems like this really helps guide our decisions when it comes to the value of these projects to our community,” he said. “If we are going to build buildings that will stand by 2030, 2050, we should make every effort to encourage builders to build the kind of buildings we would like to see built.”
That’s a great point, said Missy Stults, the head of the city’s sustainability bureau.
“It’s not what this regulation change is, but it’s a conversation we had with the planning department and planning board and thought more about how we encourage people to do what we want,” she said and added that this means all-electric, net-zero buildings that run on renewable energy.
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Councilor Ali Ramlawi, District D-5, said there were concerns about the implementation of the law as there are different types of building uses and tenants occupying it at different times. It’s not a single 9-to-5 society, he said.
A benchmarking tool the city plans to use to evaluate similar properties – the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager – takes into account different occupation patterns, said Thea Yagerlener, city energy analyst.
While the University of Michigan wouldn’t have to comply with the ordinance, UM is already benchmarking its buildings, officials said. Stults told the council she would see if the university shares her data.
Ramlawi asked if there was a similar ordinance in other Michigan cities and if there was a chance property owners could challenge it as a violation of their rights in court.
“Although dozens of cities in the United States have benchmarking regulations, there is currently no community in Michigan with one,” said Yagerlener. “So we worked with Detroit and Grand Rapids. Detroit has also gone through a stakeholder engagement process and plans to submit a similar regulation. “
The proposed law is firmly anchored in consumer protection, said Stults.
“Consumers have the right to know a place before renting or taking it over,” she said.
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