Aspen increases heat on reducing energy use in commercial and residential buildings


Aspen city council took action on Monday to force owners of commercial buildings and multi-family homes to monitor and reduce their energy use.

It’s called Building IQ, an initiative that was launched in 2018. Last year, the benchmarking program became voluntary for property owners.

Yet despite widespread awareness, no homeowner has agreed to participate in the program, according to Tessa Schreiner, the city’s sustainability programs administrator.

“As part of this voluntary program, no commercial building has accepted us,” she said during the council working session. “What we are proposing today is that it become mandatory to really encourage building owners to participate.

The council is expected to pass an ordinance early next year that includes a “benchmarking”, which requires building owners to enter data from natural gas, electricity and water utilities into a flatbed free of charge. -EPA shape.

Then, based on the data sets and the uses of particular buildings and types, reductions in energy and water use will be required.

The Council agreed on Monday during its working session to go with a slower phasing option, which starts with commercial buildings over 20,000 square feet by December 2022 and multi-family housing put in place by 2024.

Under this option, all properties would be compliant by 2025.

The effort is part of a two-year carbon reduction effort, which the board agreed to earlier this year and called on staff to reduce Aspen’s greenhouse gas emissions by taking meaningful action and by showing leadership in reducing the community’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Commercial and residential buildings in Aspen account for 58% of greenhouse gas emissions, which is why the city is focusing on them as a way to significantly reduce its carbon footprint.

City Councilor John Doyle has said he would like the city to move forward with the Building IQ program as quickly as possible.

“I think the sooner we can solve the problem, the better off we will all be,” he said, adding that he was not opposed to hiring more staff to administer the program. “Our planet is in crisis right now and we don’t have much time left and a gap of one year is a large amount of time.”

The Building IQ ordinance would set an annual deadline for homeowners to report their energy use and make improvements.

“You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” Schreiner said. “There are a lot of reduction opportunities.

After the benchmarking, building owners would be required to take measures to reduce their energy consumption, based on comparable properties.

Building improvements could be matched with incentives from the city.

Through benchmarking and energy improvements, building owners would increase their profitability, tenants would see their utility bills go down and the city government would make more data-driven decisions, city officials said.

At the end of 2018, staff began developing Building IQ by assembling a design team to research and develop recommendations on how the city could implement a program.

The team hired consultants and led extensive community engagement, which included dozens of one-on-one and group meetings, hundreds of emails, and an online engagement portal, according to Schreiner.

What they heard from many homeowners was that they didn’t want information about their buildings made public in a database, as many other cities do in their similar programs.

Council members kicked the box by making the decision on Monday night, with most saying they preferred a comprehensive list of unidentified properties, but understood that it could also have a positive effect if people were recognized for their improvements.

“I think the more information we have the better,” Doyle said. “We are all in the same boat.”


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