Government & Politics

Kansas City Council to vote on energy reporting for large buildings

Solar arrays atop the J.E. Dunn Construction headquarters at 1001 Locust St. in downtown Kansas City were installed in January 2012.
Solar arrays atop the J.E. Dunn Construction headquarters at 1001 Locust St. in downtown Kansas City were installed in January 2012. The Kansas City Star

Despite pushback from some major property managers, the Kansas City Council is set to vote this week on a mandate that large buildings measure and report their energy consumption within a few years.

If the full Council approves the plan Thursday, Kansas City would join 13 other cities nationwide that require large buildings to assess and report their energy and water use, much like mileage disclosures on cars.

The other cities that have approved this mandate are Austin, Texas; Boston and Cambridge, Mass.; Minneapolis, Chicago, Atlanta, Portland, Washington, D.C., New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Berkeley, Calif.; and Seattle.

The goal, said Councilman Scott Taylor, is “to make this a top-notch city as far as energy efficiency and being progressive.”

The measure does not require any building to make energy upgrades, but the assessments in other cities have motivated building owners to improve their energy efficiency, he said.

The goal of the reports is not to rank buildings or make any particular building look bad, said Dennis Murphey, Kansas City’s chief environmental officer.

“No shaming list will be published,” Murphey said, although he noted that consumers would ultimately be able to search for how a particular building performs.

Privately owned buildings of more than 100,000 square feet would have to gather energy consumption data beginning in May 2017, but the data wouldn’t be publicly released until Sept. 1, 2018. Buildings over 50,000 square feet would start gathering data in May 2018, to be published beginning Sept. 1, 2019.

Some major property owners have endorsed the mandate as environmentally beneficial and said the suggested energy upgrades would pay for themselves over time.

But others have complained that this will just be another bureaucratic hassle that will drive businesses out of Kansas City to neighboring suburbs that don’t have the mandate.

Opponents have said the city should pursue voluntary compliance, like a new program in Denver. But Murphey said Denver’s program has generated minimal participation, and half of those buildings are federal or city and county buildings.

To reach Lynn Horsley, call 816-226-2058 or send email to lhorsley@kcstar.com.

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