Iowa Association for Energy Efficiency

Do Your Building Energy Management Programs Spark Joy?

Tidy up your energy management by benchmarking! Molly Janis Smith and co-presenter Julie Drennen, with the Center for Energy and Environment in Minnesota, will present on two case examples of energy benchmarking to highlight the role of partnerships and collaboration in voluntary and mandatory city benchmarking programs. The cities of St. Paul, MN and Minneapolis, MN worked with Xcel Energy, Center for Energy and Environment, and their business community to achieve commercial energy benchmarking goals.

Benchmarking is the tracking of whole-building, utility data for comparison over time and to peers. Benchmarking encourages reduction in building energy use—about 3% annually according to the US EPA. However, the effectiveness of benchmarking depends on the strength of program design and implementation.

Regardless of the type of utility (e.g. IOU, municipal, or otherwise), or whether the program is mandatory or voluntary, strong benchmarking programs spark joy and achieve results through partnerships among stakeholders and community members. We draw on our experience running benchmarking programs in St. Paul, MN and Minneapolis, MN, as well as case study examples in the Midwest, to identify emergent best practices in benchmarking partnerships.

​​​​​​​Molly Janis Smith supports community engagement on energy efficiency at Center for Energy and Environment, with a focus on benchmarking. She manages Energize Saint Paul, a collaboration between the City of Saint Paul and its buildings around energy and climate change, in concert with utilities and community partners. Molly brings 15 years experience in sustainability and consulting, has a MS in Climate and Energy Sustainability from Antioch University, and a BA in Political Science from Carleton College.



​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​As the Client Development Manager at Center for Energy and Environment, Julie Drennen works closely with the Program Development Team to develop and enhance relationships with CEE’s current and future business partners. Prior to joining CEE, Julie worked on conservation advocacy and outreach for Conservation Minnesota, focusing on community engagement and policy advocacy. Julie has a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Minnesota Morris, and in addition to her work at CEE she is a member of the Steering Committee for the Metro Clean Energy Resource Team (since 2017).

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