Government & Politics

Kansas City approves requiring owners of large buildings to report energy consumption

Over the strenuous objections of some major property managers and developers, the Kansas City Council voted 12-1 to require the energy and water use measurements, which are much like mileage disclosures on cars.
Over the strenuous objections of some major property managers and developers, the Kansas City Council voted 12-1 to require the energy and water use measurements, which are much like mileage disclosures on cars. The Kansas City Star

Kansas City will join 13 other cities nationwide in requiring owners of the city’s largest buildings to monitor and report their energy consumption within a few years.

Over the strenuous objections of some major property managers and developers, the Kansas City Council voted 12-1 Thursday to require the energy and water use measurements, which are much like mileage disclosures on cars.

“This is important for a lot of different reasons,” Councilman Scott Taylor said, arguing it will help Kansas City join the nation’s most progressive cities in encouraging energy efficiency, helping save energy costs, improving the environment and creating jobs.

The mandate first applies to Kansas City’s municipal government buildings over the next two years. Ultimately, the program is expected to affect 3 percent of the public and private buildings in the city, which have 60 percent of the floor space.

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.

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, supporters 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.

Still, Councilman John Sharp voted against the requirement. He said the city should work cooperatively with building owners, trying to get a high level of voluntary compliance before making it mandatory.

Kansas City joins other cities including Austin, Texas; Atlanta, Chicago, Minneapolis, New York, San Francisco and Seattle in requiring the energy measurements.

Some major property owners have endorsed the mandate as environmentally beneficial and said the suggested energy upgrades would pay for themselves over time. Taylor said the city has received more than 100 letters in support of this move.

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.

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

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