JE Dunn, Freightquote, Burns & McDonnell, Hines and the City of Kansas City receives special recognition for seeking ENERGY STAR certification.

Mayor Sly James Recognizes Energy Challenge Participants

Kansas City Mayor Sly James recognized and celebrated participants in the 2014 Energy Challenge Program.  “I am proud of

Participants in 2014 Energy Challenge listen to Mayor Sly James' remarks

Participants in 2014 Energy Challenge listen to Mayor Sly James’ remarks

all the companies that are here today to be recognized for their participation,” James stated to a full house at the Kansas City Chamber Board Room.  “I want Kansas City to be known as an efficient town, since efficiency is good for business and good

Mayor Sly James addresses participants in 2014 Energy Challenge

Mayor Sly James addresses participants in 2014 Energy Challenge

for livability.”

James recognized 178 buildings that benchmarked their energy usage. James made the challenge in June 2014.  Special commendations were made to entities who benchmarked several buildings,and for those who shared their energy usage with the City.

James reserved his highest praise for the five entities who are now seeking ENERGY STAR certification for their property.  ENERGY Star certification is reserved for those who out perform 75% of their energy use compared to their peers.

Those entities are:

Hines – 2555 Grand – Shook Hardy & Bacon

JE Dunn, Freightquote, Burns & McDonnell, Hines and the City of Kansas City receives special recognition for seeking ENERGY STAR certification.

JE Dunn, Freightquote, Burns & McDonnell, Hines and the City of Kansas City receives special recognition for seeking ENERGY STAR certification.

Burns & McDonnell – State Line Office

Freightquote – Corporate Headquarters

JE Dunn Construction Corporate Headquarters

City of Kansas City, Missouri

At the conclusion of the event, James announced his 2016 Energy Challenge.  “We need to build on this momentum and make Kansas City a nationally recognized community for ENERGY STAR Certified buildings,” James stated.  “So today, I’m issuing my 2016 Mayor’s Energy Challenge.  I invite all Kansas City businesses and institutions to increase their 2016 ENERGY STAR score over their 2014 score.”

2016 Mayor’s Energy Challenge

On Monday, after celebrating the successes of the 2014 Mayor’s Energy Challenge, Mayor Sly James will launch the 2016 Mayor’s Energy Challenge.

Download more details and sign up at

The 2016 Mayor’s Energy Challenge invites Kansas City businesses and institutions to increase their 2016 ENERGY STAR® Score over their 2014 ENERGY STAR® Score.  Participating buildings are asked to benchmark their 2014 energy consumption, identify & implement strategies to improve energy efficiency, then demonstrate the achievement through an increased 2016 ENERGY STAR® Score.

Steps to Participate

  1. Enter the Challenge: Submit your 2016 Challenge Commitment Form
  2. Establish the Baseline: Report your 2014 ENERGY STAR® Score (or EUI if a Score is not available)
  3. Improve the Energy Efficiency: Identify & implement strategies to improve the building’s energy efficiency
  4. Report the Results: Report your 2016 ENERGY STAR® Score (or EUI if a Score is not available)

Then await your congratulations and recognition for your accomplishments! Mayor James will recognize challenge participants who reduce their buildings’ energy consumption while using ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager to track their progress, and report the building’s 2014 and 2016 scores. Additional recognition will be available for those who report a 2015 Score during the spring of 2016 to show their progress. Buildings achieving an ENERGY STAR® Score of 75 or higher will receive special recognition from the City.

Meanwhile, the Kansas City Energy Project will be hosting educational workshops, providing technical assistance, and tracking available incentives to help you with your energy efficiency strategies.

For more information, contact Jennifer Gunby at or 816-513-3473.

Mayor James Continues to Lead on Climate Issues

Kansas City Mayor Sly James has been busy coordinating with other Mayors across the nation on the issue of Climate Change.

In February,  Mayor James signed on to the MNCAA (Mayors’ National Climate Action Agenda).  In his letter to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, and Mayor Annise Parker, James states “I agree with you that, as mayors, we have an obligation to lead nationally on the shared challenge of mitigating GHG emissions, as well as preparing our communities for the impact of climate change.”  James finishes the letter by stating “My staff and I look forward to working with you to continue the leadership U.S. cities are providing on the issue of climate change and collaborating to achieve meaningful action at the national and international level.”

Just last week, James responded to Mayor Ralph Becker‘s call that  mayors across the country do more to mitigate Climate Change.  In it, James states “I share you interest in working to combine related efforts in hopes of providing a strong, unified national voice by mayors in our work on the frontlines of climate change mitigation and response efforts in the U.S.”

What the Windy City can tell Kansas City about Benchmarking

The City of Kansas City, MO is considering a benchmarking ordinance that would require large buildings to measure and share their energy usage, based on a goal of using increased transparency and awareness of energy use to drive additional cost-effective energy reductions. This ordinance has many similarities to an ordinance passed by the City of Chicago in 2013.

We sat down with Amy Jewel, Senior City Advisor for the City Energy Project in Chicago to learn more about Chicago’s

Amy Jewel, Senior City Advisor, City Energy Project

Amy Jewel, Senior City Advisor, City Energy Project

experience. The City Energy Project (a project implemented by two nonprofit organizations, NRDC and IMT) is a partner to the City of Chicago on various programs and policies relating to energy efficiency. The City Energy Project is also a member of the Chicago Energy Benchmarking Working Group, made up of the City and its benchmarking partners and supporters; the Working Group collaborates on implementing the benchmarking and transparency ordinance in Chicago.

Chicago passed its benchmarking ordinance in September 2013, and the first set of buildings (commercial and municipal buildings over 250,000 square feet) were required to report data in June 2014. “Between ordinance passage and the first reporting deadline, the Chicago Energy Benchmarking Working Group set up a number of benchmarking support resources for buildings,” Jewel noted, “including extensive trainings that covered the ordinance background, policy goals, and requirements, as well as how to utilize ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. The trainings were free and were facilitated by the USGBC-Illinois (IL) chapter, and were led by volunteer trainers from USGBC-IL, ASHRAE-IL and AIA-Chicago.”

“In addition, Chicago created a Benchmarking Help Center to field questions from building owners and managers,” Jewel reported. The Help Center is operated by Elevate Energy, a nonprofit organization that is also part of the Chicago Energy Benchmarking Working Group. According to the Elevate Energy 2014 Annual Report, the Help Center responded to more than 800 calls and messages from building owners, managers, and service providers.

Whole-building energy consumption data was also available from the local utilities, which helps to facilitate the benchmarking process.

In December 2014, the city reported results from the first year of reporting in the 2014 Chicago Energy Benchmarking Report. In total, 348 buildings spanning 260 million square feet reported in 2014, which represented a 92% compliance rate.


Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. Photo credit: Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. (Photo taken from the 2014 City of Chicago Building Energy Benchmarking Report)

In several instances, Chicago buildings that benchmarked found there could be significant savings with little capital investment. Take, for example, the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, one of five featured buildings in the report. The hospital is working to reduce energy use in portions of the building that are unoccupied during nights and weekends – a total of 40% of the building. Hospital officials were surprised to find they could achieve large savings with little costs– estimated to reduce 5% of electricity and 17% of natural gas consumption.

The hospital was not alone. The Auditorium Building of Roosevelt University, located on Michigan Avenue, was built in 1889. Officials from the University note in the benchmarking report that “Roosevelt University’s iconic Auditorium Building represents innovation in showing that buildings of any age can work toward energy efficiency.” With support from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, the Illinois Department of Economic Opportunity, and utility incentive programs, and by applying insights from energy benchmarking, the University is developing an Energy Master Plan to reduce the Auditorium Building’s consumption by 20% within 5 years.

Auditorium Building of Roosevelt University. Photo credit: Roosevelt University. (Photo taken from the 2014 City of Chicago Building Energy Benchmarking Report)

Auditorium Building of Roosevelt University. Photo credit: Roosevelt University. (Photo taken from the 2014 City of Chicago Building Energy Benchmarking Report)

These types of insights into savings have a potentially huge economic impact. Jewel notes that “one of the key findings in the 2014 Chicago Energy Benchmarking Report is that there is an enormous opportunity to save money, reduce emissions and create jobs by improving all buildings’ energy intensity to the 50th percentile (average) and 75th percentile (above-average), by sector.” Such an effort would lead to a 13% to 23% total energy reduction, which would translate into $44 million to $77 million energy cost savings. In addition, the energy reductions would lead to 460,000 to 840,000 tons of avoided greenhouse gas emissions – the equivalent to removing 95,000 to 175,000 cars from the road.

All that work would be a huge job creator. More than 1,000 jobs would be created from the investments needed to achieve these savings.

There were several other interesting findings. Up to 37 buildings achieved a score of 75 or above on the 1-100 ENERGY STAR score scale, and may be eligible for ENERGY STAR certification, which can distinguish high-performing real estate in the market. Also, the median ENERGY STAR Score in Chicago was 76 out of 100 for buildings eligible to receive a score.

In another finding, the age of the building had little impact on its energy intensity, defined as the energy use per square foot of area. More specifically, the Chicago results showed a weak correlation between building age and source energy intensity, and newer buildings actually reported a slightly higher energy intensity than older ones. (Source energy intensity accounts for on-site energy consumption, as well as the energy used for generation, transmission, and distribution of site energy.) As the report noted, future data availability and additional research could shed more light on the relationships between building age, energy intensity, and other energy performance factors.

Chicago is now moving into the second phase of their benchmarking ordinance, in which commercial and municipal buildings over 50,000 square feet and residential buildings over 250,000 square feet will be required to benchmark, verify, and report in 2015. “We look forward to continued partnership with the City to implement energy benchmarking in 2015 and 2016,“ Jewel said.

Informed Choice is the Smart Choice

Imagine you walk into a grocery store looking to buy something healthy. You search for the nutritional label on a box of crackers. But there’s no label. You can’t figure out how many calories or grams of fat or sugar there are in the crackers.  You are frustrated, you don’t know which options are healthier, but you have to eat.

The next day, you plan to buy a new car. Your current car isn’t running well and it’s time for a replacement. You go to your local car lot with a price range in mind. You can tell the make and model of the cars in your price range, but there are no stickers telling you what the miles per gallon (MPG) of the cars are, or what the average fuel costs are. The salesman isn’t of any help; he either cannot or will not tell you the fuel efficiency of the vehicles you are interested in. Instead, he talks to you about the bells and whistles the car has – GPS system, seat warmers, satellite radio, etc. Exasperated, you end up leaving the lot – but you know at some point you have to buy a car.

Sound unlikely? It is when you buy a car or purchase food items. But, it happens every day when you decide to lease a space for your business or rent a place to live. You can ask for energy data, but in most cities – including Kansas City – the owner or manager of the space isn’t required to provide it. You might be able to lease a space in the perfect location with the amenities you crave, get the hippest apartment in town, but you could get a bad surprise – high energy costs.

That might not be a concern to some folks – just like some people don’t care about fuel economy or healthy eating. But in those other situations, at least you KNOW that your car is inefficient or donuts are fattening. It is up to you whether that is important to you.

With buildings, you are making a purchase without all the pertinent data. And the absence of that knowledge might hit you where it hurts- your pocketbook.

That’s why requiring benchmarking and reporting of large spaces is important. It allows for consumers to make an informed decision. Location may in fact be the most important factor in real estate (or maybe even the first three factors), but what if you find two buildings in the same general location that you are interested in? If one was much more energy efficient, wouldn’t that factor in your decision? The more efficient building will mean you will have lower energy bills. That will help your business’ bottom line.

Great work KC! (but a lot of work still to be done)

Kansas City has received a lot of positive press recently about energy efficiency and sustainability efforts: The proposed Jonathan Arnold development at 2nd and Delaware that will utilize 70 to 80% less energy than a comparable building. The announcement from KCP&L that they will install 1,000 electric charging stations in the

Dennis Murphey, with the City of Kansas City, chats with Tom Corso with MC Realty and Ashok Gupta with the NRDC at the recent KCP&L news conference announcing 1,000 new charging stations.

Dennis Murphey, with the City of Kansas City, chats with Tom Corso with MC Realty and Ashok Gupta with the NRDC at the recent KCP&L news conference announcing 1,000 new charging stations.

metro area. And KCP&L wasn’t done; it announced that it would cease burning coal at three of its power plants.

These are all great and important stories, but a sobering report recently released by the NRDC shows that we as a community need to do much more in order to minimize the impact of climate change.

The report, entitled “Climate and Health in Missouri” paints an alarming future for Missouri if changes are not made quickly. The report shows:

  1. Extreme Heat and Heat Waves will lead to Increased Illness and Death – Projections show that extreme heat events will become the norm.  Look for days over 90 degrees to jump substantially.  That in turn is projected to add to an additional 9,000 heat-related summertime deaths across St. Louis and Kansas City through the end of the century
  2. Climate Change will Worsen Air Pollution – Kansas City already has to deal with ozone alert days and could reach non-attainment standards by the EPA.  That will only worsen if carbon emissions are not lowered.  Look for higher asthma rates and health problems in the next century if pollutants are not contained.  The study states that if Missouri were to reduce its particles and smog, it could save 1,200 lives and prevent 310 hospitalizations from 2020-2030.  It would also lessen carbon pollution to limit longer-term climate change
  3. Hate allergies? Climate Change will just make it worse – Higher carbon and temperatures affect the growing season and range of plants.  The bottom line is that more pollen will be produced over a longer period time.  Ragweed in particular is cited as becoming more problematic
  4. Extreme Storms and Flooding will become More Commonplace – Kansas City has often suffered from flooding – the 1951 Great Flood and the 1993 Great Flood are the most extreme examples. Expect those type of events to become more commonplace.  The report states that extreme rainfall has become 53 percent more frequent in Missouri over the past 60 years.  Average precipitation in the state has increased by 2.4 inches in the past century.
  5. Insect-Borne Illnesses will Spread – Look for both West Nile Disease and Lyme Disease to become more prevalent in Missouri as both mosquitos and ticks will proliferate in the state.
  6. The Young, Elderly and Low-Income Populations will Especially Be Hit Hard – Climate Change will affect everyone, but will have an even greater impact on those most vulnerable.  Hotter summers are especially hard on those who can’t afford air conditioning, or those who are very young or old.

The sobering report notes that these projections are not cast in stone; there is still time to make tangible changes to our energy use to head off these scenarios.

So while it is great to celebrate the great work that is happening in Kansas City, we should be reminded that we all need to do much more to head off the deleterious effects of climate change. The City Energy Project is just one mechanism to do so.

Guest Blog: Energy Star for Commercial Buildings

Energy Star for Commercial Buildings

by Robert Harris, PE, LEED®AP BD+C

Can Earning the Energy Star for Commercial Buildings Help My Business?

Just about everyone has seen the familiar blue Energy Star label on appliances, such as refrigerators, dishwashers, computers, printers, and televisions.  According to EPA, “Energy Star is the single most trusted environmental label in the United States. It’s the nation’s symbol for superior energy performance. In fact, more than 85 percent of Americans recognize the Energy Star when they see it.” Now, did you know you could earn the Energy Star label for your commercial buildings?

I can earn the Energy Star for my Commercial Building?

Why, yes! The United States Environmental Protection Agency has free online tools to help building owners and their consultants benchmark energy use, improve energy performance, and earn recognition for energy efficient buildings. The first Energy Star commercial building earned its label in 1999. Now, Energy Star certified buildings can be found in all 50 states. The certification program is based on actual utility bill data and building characteristics, verified by licensed designed professionals, and checked by EPA, so there is little chance of greenwash. I’ll say it again… Actual Data!

How do I earn the Energy Star for my Commercial Building?

Start by entering utility bill data and building information into Portfolio Manager, EPA’s free online tool. Once the data is entered, the tool will calculate a score between 1 and 100. Buildings that have a score of 75 or higher are eligible to apply for the Energy Star. In order to earn the Energy Star label, the data entered into Portfolio Manager must be verified by a licensed design professional, including a visit to the building.

Why should I earn the Energy Star for my Commercial Building?

Energy Star buildings save energy, save money, and help protect the environment by generating fewer greenhouse gas emissions than typical buildings. No matter where it is seen, the Energy Star label is a well-known mark of top performance in energy efficiency. It’s very recognizable by your employees and customers, and can build relatively inexpensive goodwill with the public. Research has shown that most people prefer to work or do business with companies that they perceive as being environmentally responsible. Energy efficiency isn’t just a first step to being green. It’s a smart business decision that can have a high return on investment, and can bolster your competitive advantage.

How much does earning the Energy Star label cost?

Unlike other green building recognition programs, there are no registration or certification fees involved in earning the Energy Star label for Commercial Buildings, and EPA makes the online tools available for free. Costs include the labor to gather and enter the utility bill and building information into Portfolio Manager, and the cost to hire a licensed design professional to visit the site and verify the data that was entered. If you have a large building portfolio with sites located throughout the country, the travel expenses can be one of the higher costs. According to the EPA the certification costs can be ½ to 1 cent per square foot, and this is consistent with our experience for large format retail store verification. Certifying smaller buildings will have higher costs per square foot. Some state and local government entities may offer incentives that can help to offset the costs of the licensed professional verification.

How do I get started?

Visit for more information on EPA’s Energy Star program for commercial buildings. Or contact if you would like to learn more about licensed professional verification for your commercial building.