Best Practice Action Detail

Best Practice Action 2.3

GreenStep City Best Practices Buildings and Lighting
Efficient Existing Private Buildings No. 2

Provide incentives for energy, water and sustainability improvements in existing residential and commercial buildings/building sites.

Best Practice Action 3

Implement an energy rating/disclosure policy for residential and/or commercial buildings.

  • Some cities in Minnesota require by ordinance a Property Maintenance Certificate, or a Truth in Housing (TIH) or Time of Sale inspection when a building is sold. The intent is to provide accurate information to buyers on the condition of the real property for sale and to help the city keep up the quality of buildings available. Every city determines the required inspection elements, such as sump pump/rain leader disconnection from the sanitary sewer system, blower door testing, inspection with an infrared camera, and ranking or certification of energy performance (see Minneapolis' Time of Sale Energy Disclosure), using programs such as the Home Energy Score, Energy Star Home Energy Yardstick, Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index or Energy Fit Homes, a 2016 certification program specifically designed for energy efficiency in Minnesota’s existing homes, being delivered through existing utility programs.
  • Some local utilities send customers (including residential renters and owners) statements listing their energy use/costs in comparison to last month, last year and in comparison to similar building types. To help a would-be rental customer pick an energy-efficient apartment, work done in Bemidji during 2016 by Fresh Energy resulted in a sample ordinance through which a city would require landlords to disclose the energy usage for residential rental properties. Beginning in 2021 Minneapolis will require a Time of Rent Energy Disclosure.
  • In 2013 Minneapolis become the first city in the Midwest to adopt an energy benchmarking and disclosure rule for commercial buildings above 50,000 square feet. To set an example, the city first began with a report of city-owned building performance. Hennepin County is currently working with interested cities in Minnesota that wish to have access to commercial building data and adopt a disclosure ordinance. In 2019 Edina adopted an ordinance for commercial/multi-family buildings over 25,000 sq. ft.  Cities with such an ordinance show collective commercial building energy use reductions of 2-3% per year. Note that starting in May 2019 the Great Plains Institute will work with a group of cities - the Efficient Buildings Collaborative - interested in beginning commercial energy benchmarking programs.
  • Renewable Energy Ready Home (includes EV-ready elements) specifications were developed by the U.S. EPA to educate builders on how to assess and equip new homes with a set of features that make it easier and less expensive for homeowners to install solar energy systems after the home is constructed. Zero Energy Ready Home specifications produce a high performance home which is so energy efficient that a renewable energy system can offset all or most of its annual energy consumption.
1 star Local utility sends customers statements listing how well they are doing in comparison to last month, last year and in comparison to similar building types; incorporate residential blower-door (ACH50 or CFM50) or energy efficiency rating (HERS or equivalent) in truth-in-housing reports. Report sump pump/rain leader disconnection under action 20.3; city buildings under action 1.1
2 star Require an energy audit with blower door test as part of truth-in-housing inspection and include results in all TIH reports.
3 star Require energy use disclosure for certain commercial buildings, using Hennepin County's tools for cities in Minnesota; require landlords to disclose the energy usage for residential rental properties; require residential energy disclosure at time-of-sale; report both Energy Efficiency rating and Renewable Energy Ready Home (includes EV-ready elements) site assessment results or certification. Report city policies that incentivize acting on commercial building ratings - recommissioning and retrofitting - under action 2.6

Who's doing it

Fergus Falls - 1 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
The City of Fergus Falls uses the Minnesota B3 Benchmarking database for the city owned facilities. Otter Tail Power Company uses a monthly energy rating system for their clients. They send out statements listing how well they are doing in comparison to last month, last year and in comparison to similar type homes.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Len Taylor (City staff) | | 218-332-5418