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Local Government Spotlight: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Developed "Avoided Energy Usage Report" to Communicate with City Departments

Summary

The energy manager for Minneapolis, Minnesota, employed energy-cost and energy-use avoidance as metrics for communicating energy performance with the city's departments. Quarterly reports for each city department list data for each facility, providing departments with the necessary feedback on performance over time. In 2010, a city office building was re-lamped and carbon dioxide monitors were added to the air handling equipment to increase the efficiency of steam boilers. The retrofits cost the city $78,000, but by using the cost avoidance calculator, the energy manager demonstrated that the city avoided $98,000 in steam and electricity costs the following year—a net savings of $20,000.

Goal: Share data with departments in a format that will incentivize action in order to reduce energy consumption.

Barrier: Data are not shared broadly and consistently enough with key stakeholders to incentivize action.

Solution: Employed energy cost and use avoidance as a metric for communicating energy performance with the city's departments in quarterly reports.

Outcome: In 2010, a city office building was re-lamped and carbon dioxide monitors were added to the air handling equipment to increase the efficiency of steam boilers. The retrofits cost the city $78,000, but by using the cost avoidance calculator, the energy manager demonstrated that the city avoided $98,000 in steam and electricity costs the following year—a net savings of $20,000.

Background

Minneapolis is a top-50 city in terms of population with just over 425,000 residents.[1]

Implementation Strategy

The energy manager for Minneapolis, Minnesota, employed energy-cost and energy-use avoidance as a metric for communicating energy performance with the city's departments. Cost avoidance measures actual energy use and cost relative to expected use and cost based on prior year performance. The calculation normalizes usage for weather. Quarterly reports for each city department listed data for each facility, providing departments with the necessary feedback on performance over time.

The concise report (see sample report for the Minneapolis Fire Department below) was in an Excel spreadsheet format and spotlights buildings in which performance had slipped. With this approach, departments could immediately distinguish the buildings that used more energy and increased energy costs from buildings that contributed to savings for the city.

The Avoided Usage Report provides information on:

  • Facility-level predicted and actual quarterly cost and usage (table) and the difference between the actual versus predicted values
  • Cost and usage were predicted based on data from the prior year
  • Data was normalized for weather
  • Facilities that exceeded prior year's usage by more than 5% or >$100 in cost are flagged in red and referred to as "worst offenders"
  • Reports rolled up facility-level data for the total cost and usage and difference from predicted values for each department
  • Annual up-to-date cost and usage relative to predicted were also calculated to show energy trends over a longer time period (i.e., if report is generated for Q3, then Q1-Q3 data is presented).

Outcome

In 2010, a city office building was re-lamped and carbon dioxide monitors were added to the air handling equipment to increase the efficiency of steam boilers. The retrofits cost the city $78,000, but by using the cost avoidance calculator, the energy manager demonstrated that the city avoided $98,000 in steam and electricity costs the following year—a net savings of $20,000.

(To learn more about Minneapolis' energy data management work, check out the Local Government Spotlight: "Deploying a Benchmarking and Monthly Utility Bill Analysis Tool in Minneapolis" in Step 5)

Note: The information in this case study is based on primary research conducted in 2013. Learn more about the guide's research and development.

To learn more about how to engage key stakeholders and communicate results to hardwire energy data management in your organization, see Step 7.

3rd Quarter 2013 Avoided Electricity Usage Report for the Minneapolis Fire Department

This report takes the actual electricity usage in July–September 2012 and predicts what the electricity usage in July–September 2013 should be, taking into account the actual weather in July–September 2013. If the actual usage in July–September 2013 is less than this predicted usage, then the department has reduced its electricity usage after adjusting for weather conditions.

Fire Station Predicted Cost Actual Cost Avoided Cost Predicted Use kWh Actual Use kWh Avoided Use
Dollars % kWh %
1 $2,192.95 $2,086.71 $106.24 4.8% 16,187 15,458 729 4.5%
2 $2,057.56 $1,892.96 $164.60 8.0% 16,001 14,760 1,241 7.8%
4 $1,522.00 $1,522.00 $0.00 0.0% 13,281 13,281 0 0.0%
5 $1,077.69 $862.26 $215.43 20.0% 6,099 4,880 1,219 20.0%
6 $3,121.82 $2,707.36 $414.46 13.3% 23,338 20,240 3,098 13.3%
7 $955.18 $914.26 $40.92 4.3% 7,857 7,520 337 4.3%
8 $2,550.89 $2,639.90 ($89.01) (3.5%) 21,135 21,897 -762 (3.6%)
11 $2,817.77 $2,722.73 $95.04 3.4% 23,286 22,520 766 3.3%
12 $1,115.29 $976.44 $138.85 12.4% 8,589 7,520 1,069 12.4%
14 $1,620.63 $1,775.74 ($155.11) (9.6%) 15,187 16,640 -1,453 (9.6%)
15 $2,678.83 $2,804.91 ($126.08) (4.7%) 21,881 22,926 -1,045 (4.8%)
16 $1,684.48 $1,617.89 $66.59 4.0% 12,095 11,583 512 4.2%
17 $1,483.67 $1,389.03 $94.64 6.4% 12,476 11,680 796 6.4%
19 $828.08 $876.61 ($48.53) (5.9%) 8,188 8,486 -298 (3.6%)
20 $2,264.82 $2,289.85 ($25.03) (1.1%) 17,951 18,160 -209 (1.2%)
21 $1,660.60 $1,296.44 $364.16 21.9% 13,577 10,600 2,977 21.9%
22 $2,103.68 $2,119.79 ($16.11) (0.8%) 17,065 17,200 -135 (0.8%)
27 $871.38 $1,024.37 ($152.99) (17.6%) 7,145 8,400 -1,255 (17.6%)
28 $1,631.65 $1,620.54 $11.11 0.7% 13,293 13,200 93 0.7%
Burn Bldg. $132.48 $134.08 ($1.60) (1.2%) 758 767 -9 (1.2%)
EOTF $7,546.80 $7,976.13 ($429.33) (5.7%) 65,428 69,120 -3,692 (5.6%)
Training Tower $130.12 $138.19 ($8.07) (6.2%) 757 803 -46 (6.1%)
Wehr Bldg. $89.73 $63.64 $26.09 29.1% 325 230 95 29.2%
Old 14 $180.02 $179.36 $0.66 0.4% 412 411 1 0.2%
Total $42,318.11 $41,631.19 $686.92 1.6% 342,311 338,282 4,029 1.2%

Taking the weather into effect for this 3-month period, the entire department used 1.2% less electricity than it should have. For the first 9 months of 2013, the entire department used 2.8% more electricity than it should have, at an extra cost of $1,900. The worst offenders for the third quarter are highlighted in red.