GreenStep Cities Workshop: Benchmarking Your Public Buildings & What the Heck is Step 4 Anyways?

On October 15th, 2014 about two dozen people met at the League of Minnesota Cities in St. Paul and online for the first of eight GreenStep Cities Workshops in the 2014-2015 Series. The workshop focused on energy benchmarking and introduced the newest GreenStep program, “Step 4.”

Katie Schmitt from the Weidt Group started the group off with a presentation on Energy benchmarking using the B3 (Buildings, Benchmarking and Beyond!) system. Katie described in detail how to navigate the program, the importance of keeping data current (hint: have accounts payable enter the utility data as soon as the bill arrives!) and how to use the information that comes out of the benchmarking software. B3 gives cities an Energy Usage Intensity (EUI) for their buildings, measured in kBTU/SF/yr (energy used per square foot per year). The EUI for each building is compared to a standardized benchmark based on Minnesota’s Building Code as well as other cities’ EUI for similar buildings. Cities using B3 also get information on what they could save if they improved their EUI to the level of the standardized benchmark.

Next up was Thea Holmburg-Johnson of LHB Corporation presenting on water benchmarking examples from Minnesota State College and Universities (MNSCU). Water benchmarking is not as well utilized as energy benchmarking, but just like with energy benchmarking, you can’t manage what you don’t measure. Thea demonstrated this with an example from Mesabi Community Technical College: they were able to see with water benchmarking that after they introduced new toilets in dorms their annual water usage dropped more than 35%!

To help cities make energy efficiency upgrades or installations in the buildings identified for potential savings, Mike Meyers from Xcel Energy (our workshop series sponsor!) gave a presentation on Xcel’s Commercial Rebate Program. There are a myriad of rebate programs for both electric and gas customers. In 2013, Xcel Energy’s rebate program saved more than 494 Million kWh, enough energy to power over 600,000 Twin Cities homes for a year!

The final presentation was by Philipp Muessig from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). He introduced the new GreenStep Step 4, which provides a new level of achievement for the handful of cities that have already reached Step 3. To reach Step 4, cities will track and submit metrics from a selection of categories, such as energy and water use, vehicle fleet efficiency, community and economic development and more. GreenStep Cities staff will be collecting feedback from cities as they continue to refine step 4 before its official roll out next year.

If you missed out on the first workshop you can still learn about the topics by downloading the presentations from the workshop below. You can also check out photos from the day on Flickr by clicking here or see below.

To get more information, register and/or participate in future workshops click here.

Download presentations from the workshop: