Des Moines Considers Energy & Water ‘Benchmarking' Ordinance

posted by Jordan Oster on Thursday, May 2, 2019

As part of its emissions reduction goal, Des Moines could soon join a growing number of major U.S. cities to develop a ‘benchmarking’ ordinance. Under the Building Performance Policy, the city’s largest buildings would track and annually report data about their energy and water consumption.

The City of Des Moines has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions 28% citywide by year 2025. If passed, this policy would play a big role in reaching that goal.

Though less than 1% of Des Moines buildings are larger than 25,000 square feet, these big buildings represent 43% of all energy use in the city. There are real opportunities for these buildings to improve their efficiency; saving them money, strengthening the local economy, and reducing pollution.  

Knowledge is the first step. The process of benchmarking assigns a score that compares the efficiency of an individual building to that of similar buildings. The intent of benchmarking is to inform building managers and to motivate performance improvements.

Benchmarking is key to an energy management strategy since you can’t manage what you don’t measure. This information can help drive efficiency improvements, lowering the participants operating costs and preventing the waste of millions of kilowatt hours of energy and billions of gallons of water by the end of the next decade.

By improving air quality and reducing harmful pollution from fossil fuels, Des Moines residents - particularly the young and elderly with respiratory illnesses - will be big beneficiaries.

While the federal and state governments seem to be heading in the wrong direction on energy efficiency, local governments can lead on sustainability. Des Moines can set an example and be a beacon to other Iowa cities committed to reducing emissions.

The Des Moines City Council will again discuss the benchmarking ordinance at their regular meeting on May 20th. If you live in the City of Des Moines, we encourage you to attend the session or write to your city councilors in support of the Building Performance Policy.

  1. clean energy
  2. energy efficiency
  3. sustainability

About The Author

Jordan Oster is Energy Outreach Coordinator with the Iowa Environmental Council. He joined the council in 2019 after previously consulting for the organization. Jordan is an experienced issue advocate from Des Moines. He has worked with numerous state and national issue organizing ... read more