Evanston aldermen Monday again postponed action on a proposed benchmarking ordinance that would require owners of larger buildings — including condo developments — to report their energy usage to the city.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said leaders of self-managed condominium buildings in her ward “are just at a loss” about the new requirements. “They don’t seem to have been notified,” she said, adding that she was unable to answer their questions about the proposal.

Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, said she, too, had received calls from condo owners and others concerned about the ordinance.


Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, said he feared the ordinance would lead to “public shaming and humiliation” of building owners.

The proposal “needs some work,” Wilson said, adding that the recently amended nuisance premises ordinance ended up “a much better product” after the city got more input from building owners.

Jonathan Nieuwsma, vice chair of the city’s Utility Commission, argued that the ordinance could achieve a much greater reduction in energy consumption than was likely from purely voluntary efforts. He said energy consumption in Evanston has dropped only 3 percent in recent years and could be expected to be reduced by 7 percent in a three year period with the ordinance in place.

Dan Schermerhorn.

But Dan Schermerhorn, an owner of a property management firm in town, said buiding owners have been trying to cut energy use since the energy crisis of the 1970s. He said the ordinance would require landlords to collect electricity usage records from tenants, when he has eough trouble getting rent payments from them now.

Schermerhorn claimed that studies show no proven benefits from energy benchmarking, But Alderman Eleanor Revelle, 7th Ward, said a more recent study by the same author cited by Schermerhorn showed there was a positive impact.

The aldermen voted to postpone action on the ordinance until their Nov. 28 meeting and make efforts to better inform building owners about the proposal in the meantime.

Related stories

Benchmarking ordinance back in play (9/15/16)

Council benches benchmarking ordinance (7/26/16)

City to make big building owners report energy use (6/22/16)

Plan would force building owners to report energy usage (3/17/16)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Another Council bureaucracy

    I'm all for energy conservation but this sounds more like a bureaucracy and solution without a problem.  As one building manager said it is hard enough to get renters and condo owners to pay rent [and comply with building business.]The requirement to have a professional assert to the accuracy reminds me of the "lawyers full employment act. Does the city see this as a way to create jobs or raise revenue ? Maybe the Council, Manager and city buildiings can report to the public for a year their use before laying this on residents. IF there is a need for such reporting ComEd, Nicor and the City have the macro data for each building already—whats the change the city will ask buildings for Water use even though it is the city that already bill them !It reminds me of Woody Allen's "Banana" where he says everyone will wear their underwear on the outside so the government can check it is clean.

    1. Conservation

      Conservation-Confusion, let us waist energy and resources to report on inform already available from the utility companies. The time, and energy to collect this information from individual tenants will cost more than the potential of trying to save energy.  I am proponant of energy saving, but let's be wise about it. With the installation of smart meters from the electric company and smart metering in gas meters a simple report from each utility company would be able to provide this data at a lot more efficiency. Individuals would mostly like provide the numbers on paper (waist) with their checks and then that data needs to be converted to computer and your assuming that landlords are organized enough to provide the information efficiently. Think about what you need and the best way to get the information. Do you really need the knowledge that grandma in unit 4a is using more than the student in 3B. I think not. The data that can be provided from the utility companies can drive energy saving. You want to save Energy get rid of street lights that direct light up and not down where the light is needed. You could use fewer light poles and lower energy units to accomplish a safer environment.


      1. Big Brother wants “certified professions” to verify

        Will lawyers not be far behind—"Lawyer and 'Professionals'" Full Employment Act

        4-22-6: BUILDING DATA VERIFICATION. (A) Data Verification. Prior to the first benchmarking deadline in City Code Section 4-22-5 and prior to each third benchmarking deadline thereafter, the owner of a covered building must ensure that reported benchmarking information for that year is verified by a certified professional.

        What are odds they will want building to report water use—even though the city meters and bills for water.

      2. Turn off street lights on cloudy days

        To save some engey the City needs to turn off the street lights once its light out and not leave on just because its cloudy.  Triming branchs around street would be a good idea also. Seems during summer nights the streets remain dark even though the lights are on. In most cases it because the trees cover the light.

  2. Hey, hey, hey.  Let’s add

    Hey, hey, hey.  Let's add city employees and city council members to the tracking.  That would give them something to do!

  3. Energy Consumption Regulation
    How did something like this get passed? Like another reader wrote…a solution looking for a problem.

    First, why? Evanston does not supply any energy utilities to these buildings aside from water and sewer service. All the utilities provide monthly energy audit information to their customers with suggestions on how to reduce consumption. What purpose does it serve for the city to add this onerous and burdensome regulation to residents and private property owners?

    As another reader wrote, it would behoove the city to audit its own energy consumption and correct deficiencies there, and there are many. Maybe a reconsideration of the city’s development plan is in order if it thinks energy consumption is too high. Maybe there should be a moratorium on density and high rise building.

    People should be allowed to “live” in their units as they see fit. You have singles, couples, families, retirees all with different energy needs. If the city is looking for a one-size solution to a non-existent problem, don’t be surprised if you get more pushback. Though the information is readily available to the stakeholders, that’s just it, the stakeholders are private citizens under no obligation to share this information with a public body.

    Big brother is watching and it isn’t pretty. This is not your job Evanston. Everyday I’m amazed at how far this city has gone from the Evanston I grew up in and still hold dear. I guess it’s just another SMH moment. Sad…

  4. Ordinances, “feel good” and waste time and money

    The Council keeps proposing things that make them "feel good" even though they accomplish nothing—except cost taxpayers time and money in complying and raise taxes to pay for the city's record keeping.

    What would they do if they did not like someone's energy use ? Sue them ?  In fact some lawyer may sue the city if this is even pasted and before it begins.  The taxpayers would then pay for the city to fight the suit and possibly pay damages if enforced.

    If the Council is so concerned about energy, close the City Hall parking lot, get rid of all cars the city owns, make sure the Council, Mayor, Manager and all city employees walk, bike or take public transportation to work. Since they believe new buildings don't need so many parking spaces, live up to that theory and get rid of their cars—city employees should live close enough to public transportation to use it.

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