By: J.C. Martel and Jerry Shechter, Office of Environmental Quality
When our most recent greenhouse gas inventory was published in 2015, we learned that the city government had decreased its electricity consumption enough since 2000 to meet the city’s emissions target. Overall, City operations use 21% less electricity than they did 13 years ago. However, during the same time period, community-wide electricity consumption increased 14%. Community-wide electricity demand increased due to large developments such as the Sprint Center and Power & Light District, and a massive increase in downtown multi-family housing. As a result, the best opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are found outside of City Hall.
In June 2015, Mayor Sly James and the City Council of Kansas City adopted an Energy Empowerment Ordinance requiring the owners of large buildings to report their energy and water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. By reporting this information, building owners can compare their buildings to other structures in the City. This type of information sharing results in a higher awareness of how efficient or inefficient their buildings are, possibly resulting in energy-saving building improvements. The law applies to approximately 3 percent of Kansas City’s non-single family buildings, which account for nearly 47 percent of the total energy used by buildings in Kansas City.
The ordinance enables us to analyze the energy, water, and greenhouse gas emissions of Kansas City’s largest buildings beginning in 2016. The below map shows the location of these large buildings throughout the city.
Over 30% of Kansas City’s large buildings are located in the downtown and government districts, Power and Light District, River Market, West Bottoms, Crown Center, and Hospital Hill areas. Farther south, the neighboring areas of Westport, Country Club Plaza, and University of Missouri-Kansas City campus contain over 15% of Kansas City’s largest buildings. Other pockets of large buildings are in Kansas City North around Kansas City’s International Airport, in and around the Northeast Industrial District, and south Kansas City around Interstate 435, with approximately 10% each.
In Kansas City, fifty early energy efficiency adopters in Kansas City have already scored their buildings with the ENERGY STAR program using the Environmental Protection Agency’s free online Portfolio Manager tool. To earn an ENERGY STAR score, the building must perform better than 75% of other similar buildings nationwide. Additionally, 100 buildings in KCMO have received LEED certification for green building.
The greenhouse gas inventory data informed City leadership’s decision to enact the Energy Empowerment Ordinance, targeting the largest consumers of energy and water in the community. Spatial mapping of the building’s locations has helped program staff determine where to focus education and outreach efforts, such as identifying locations to host workshops for easier access by large building owners. In this case, using data has informed environmental policymaking and program planning within the City.