Madison officials want to save businesses money on energy costs while reducing one of the largest and most difficult sources of greenhouse gases.
City leaders said Wednesday they were drafting an ordinance requiring energy metering and reduction measures for commercial buildings, which account for about a third of community-wide carbon emissions.
Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said the city must do its part to help halve global greenhouse gas emissions over the next seven years, which scientists say is needed to avoid impacts the most catastrophic of climate change.
“Climate change is one of the greatest threats to our stability, our economy and our health,” Rhodes-Conway said.
Rhodes-Conway and council leaders said the plan, developed over the past year through ongoing discussions with building owners and other stakeholders, is a key part of the goal of the city to eliminate community-wide carbon emissions by 2050.
“We can’t meet the 2050 goals if we don’t act,” Dist said. 12 Alder Syed Abbas.
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The city hasn’t calculated potential greenhouse gas reductions, but Abigail Corso, a building energy consultant who has worked with the city, said these practices can reduce energy use by up to 16 percent. .
Although no orders have been introduced, Rhodes-Conway said the building energy conservation program will require benchmarking – a way to measure and track energy use in a building – and regular “tune-ups” of energy systems.
Abbas said simple, low-cost measures such as occupancy sensors or even software updates to building controls can generate significant savings while improving air quality and reducing gases that warm the air. planet.
Dist. 13 Alder Tag Evers said the ordinance will be designed to focus on the roughly 300 largest buildings that account for the bulk of commercial sector energy use.
Abbas said he hopes to introduce an ordinance by the end of the year with additional input from building owners and managers as well as the public. The city will host an online information meeting on July 13, followed by a series of workshops later this summer.
Bill Connors, executive director of Smart Growth Madison, said members of the developer group were involved in the discussions.
“We have a large number of questions and concerns that still need to be resolved,” Connors said. “We want it to be something that really adds value. They want it to be something that actually adds value. There is hope that we can be on the same page.
The City Council considered a benchmarking ordinance in 2013, but the proposal was dropped after the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce and other business groups opposed it. A Chamber of Commerce spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the current proposal.
The board rejected a proposal to establish a voluntary benchmarking program in 2016.
Once ranked among the best states for energy efficiency standards, Wisconsin fell to 26th in the American Council’s 2020 ranking for an Energy Efficient Economy, largely due to residential building codes more than a decade old. years and significantly weakened business codes. .
Madison adopted a sustainability plan in 2011 calling for an 80% reduction in community-wide carbon emissions by 2050, a goal that has since been increased to 100%. In 2019, the council approved a $95 million plan to make local government operations carbon neutral by 2030.
The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy said last year that Madison was not yet on track to meet that goal.
But the city was the most improved in the group’s annual scorecard, rising to 39th place among the nation’s 100 largest cities thanks to investments in clean energy and green infrastructure as well as an ordinance requiring that new commercial buildings are wired for electric vehicle chargers.