April 26, 2023
The Indianapolis Office of Sustainability is happy to start the first official year of its Thriving Buildings program — the first program of its kind in the state of Indiana. The program has building owners track electricity, gas, steam and water use with their utility costs over time.
The program came about after extensive discussions with several stakeholders and experts through both in person and digital meetings. Stakeholders worked with city employees and policy makers to create the Thriving Buildings program. Indianapolis was inspired by similar programs in other municipalities throughout the United States and utilized resources from nonprofit and research groups.
Benchmarking comes from the idea that you cannot manage what you don’t measure. By keeping track of energy and water use, people can better manage their utility use. It's common to track and manage things in life like calories, miles per gallon and more, so tracking and managing utility use is an important step for building owners or managers to better understand their building’s energy and water consumption.
Thriving Buildings utilizes free ENERGY STAR software called Portfolio Manager. Users can enter their utility data and cost and can then take advantage of free ENERGY STAR training sessions to use their data to learn how to save money and energy, improve building performance, industry-specific tips and other best practices for benchmarking.
In 2022, 83 buildings, making up 26,990,700 square feet, participated in the Thriving Buildings program. These buildings consisted of city-owned buildings and private businesses from all over the Indianapolis community. Building owners and managers gathered at the Central Library to kick off the benchmarking season and learn more about the program.
This year, building owners and managers representing buildings of 100,000 square feet or greater are encouraged to participate in the program. By participating and submitting data to the city by June 1, buildings can be entered in a drawing to win a free energy audit! Building owners who wish to get additional guidance on the benchmarking process can utilize free "how to" guides from the Office of Sustainability and attend free guided workshops called Data Jams where they can see the step-by-step process to creating a Portfolio Manager account and entering and tracking their utility data. The Office of Sustainability also provides one-on-one guidance with the program manager and has links to various informational guides and videos to help with the process.
The city hopes that, through energy and water benchmarking, people will be able to be more informed about their energy and water consumption and use tools to save energy and water. The Thriving Buildings program is projected to bring savings in utility costs and lower greenhouse gas emissions, thus improving air quality and public health for the Indianapolis community. In addition, building owners and managers who become interested in going a step further and plan to use their utility use and cost data to further their sustainability goals have the potential to contribute to the local economy by hiring contractors and local businesses to improve their building’s energy and water efficiency.