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Climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing our society today.

  • Temperatures in the Midwest and on the planet continue to increase. We have hotter summers with longer dry periods. We expect and have seen intensification of storms. As temperatures rise we experience reduced air quality, increased allergens, stressed crops and increased energy demands, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

  • Climate change has moral implications too, as its impacts on agriculture, health, and extreme weather disproportionately affect the most vulnerable populations in the world and in our community.

  • The global community is beginning to take action, and it is imperative for localities to take action too.

Bloomington has reacted to the many threats to our environment by acting on our progressive values.

  • Our community has invested heavily in solar, and the City will soon follow suit with the new city solar installations that I committed to in my State of the City.

  • We've also expanded our street and trail system to increase bike and pedestrian commuting.

But there's more to be done. In Bloomington, commercial, industrial, and multifamily buildings make up roughly 60% of the community's energy consumption, and we need to find ways to make this sector more efficient.

  • We know from our experience with our own buildings that there are many opportunities for efficiency. In City Hall, for example, we've cut our energy consumption by more than half.

Therefore, on this Earth Day, I am pleased to announce two actions for continued protection of our environment.

First, I will ask the Bloomington City Council to approve an ordinance that will require buildings of significant size to report on their energy usage each year, to allow benchmarking and increase public awareness. This will help identify outliers and can improve overall energy efficiency in the City.

Energy disclosure ordinances have been passed in at least 14 cities across the US. These ordinances allow communities and building owners to:

  • Track how much energy buildings use.

  • Compare building performance with other buildings.

  • Reduce energy use, operational costs, and environmental impacts over time.

Cities enacting these ordinances include (with estimated energy reduction where available):

  • Kansas City, MO

  • Minneapolis, MN

  • Chicago, IL

  • Cambridge, MA

  • San Francisco, CA (7.9%, 2010-14)

  • Washington, DC (3%, 2012-13)

  • New York City (5.7%, 2010-13)

  • Seattle, WA (0.6%, 2011-13)

By sharing aggregated building data, year-by-year, we can all be more aware of opportunities for efficiency and measure our community's progress in fighting climate change.

Second, the City will soon launch a request for qualifications to enter into a Guaranteed Energy Savings Contract to evaluate energy and water savings opportunities in all City-owned facilities.

  • The City has entered into Guaranteed Energy Savings Contracts twice in the past with realized energy reductions of between 11% and 40%.

  • These contracts result in immediate reductions in energy use and utility costs in City facilities with no up-front capital costs.

  • By doing this, we hope to learn what's possible in our own facilities, and set an example for others in the community.

  • Together, we can have a dramatic impact on Bloomington's energy use, and make a meaningful contribution to combatting the global challenge of climate change.

I look forward to working with council and other partners on both of these initiatives. For those of you here today, I encourage you to find out how you can contribute in your own home by learning more about the Monroe County Energy Challenge and signing up for a free home assessment. Happy Earth Day.

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