Updated: 06/06/2014 9:41 PM
Created: 06/06/2014 3:22 PM KSTP.com
By: Josh Rosenthal
If you save energy, you can save money. That's the message the city of Minneapolis is hoping a new ordinance will make clear.
The energy benchmarking and disclosure ordinance was passed back in February, and this week marked the new program's first deadline.
Some buildings are ahead of the curve. The Minneapolis Central Library has saved nearly $300,000 since 2008, according to officials.
"These are the LED lights that we put in," said Leah Hiniker, Hennepin County's energy manager. That, along with other tweaks, has led to the big savings in energy costs, according to Hiniker.
"Obviously the more money you can save, the more money you can use on different things like improving your building and saving taxpayers dollars because obviously a lot of our money comes from taxpayer's dollars," Hiniker said.
The city of Minneapolis thinks there are savings to be had in the private sector too.
"Saving energy, saving money," Brendon Slotterback said. "Yeah, those are kind of the key things."
Slotterback, the sustainability program coordinator for the city, said commercial buildings count for more than 40 percent of energy use in Minneapolis. He hopes this ordinance will help curb that number.
"We want people to understand where their energy comes from, how they're using it, how efficient buildings are in the city," Slotterback said.
So owners of big buildings - roughly 300 of them that are 100,000 square feet or larger - had to report their property's energy use by June 1. If they didn't, there aren't penalties. At least not yet.
"The first thing would definitely be a strongly worded letter or phone call from us," Slotterback explained.
Or as Hiniker put it, "it's about really knowing your building, learning your building, and understanding your building."
Results for individual big buildings won't be made public until 2015. Owners of medium sized buildings - those between 50,000 square feet and 100,000 square feet - will have to report their energy usage next year too.