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Background

In 2001, the Minnesota Legislature established this goal -- achieving 30% savings in existing public buildings throughout the state. The Legislature, in setting this energy savings goal directed the Departments of Administration and Commerce to do two things: 

First, to undertake conservation benchmarking for all public buildings -- there are over 10,000 such buildings -- so that we can identify and prioritize a good list of poorly performing buildings. 

Second, the Legislature wanted Administration and Commerce to create guidelines for designing new buildings. These guidelines must ensure that the designs of new buildings are not only cost effective and energy efficient, but also beneficial to the environment and to the inhabitants of the building.

The Departments of Administration and Commerce refer to this initiative as the B3 project -- "Buildings, Benchmarks and Beyond."

It was the Legislature's intent that these agencies develop the first beta version of the conservation benchmarks and guidelines by January 15, 2003.  It is intended that they be dynamic and continually updated and improved.

Over the past three years the Departments of Administration and Commerce will be worked closely with agency owners and users of public buildings to complete the conservation benchmarking and refine the sustainable design guidelines.

In order to achieve this outcome, the Departments of Administration and Commerce assembled a team of more than 10 state agencies and institutions of higher learning and hired a consulting group led by LHB and the University of Minnesota to develop the State of Minnesota Sustainable Building Guidelines, version 2.0, issued in September of 2006 and accessible from this site.

Conservation Initiative

As previously noted, a primary objective of the 2001 Minnesota Legislature is to secure 30% energy savings in existing public buildings throughout the State of Minnesota.

To achieve this goal, the initial Conservation Benchmarking task is to create a plan that identifies the public buildings in the state with what will offer the largest opportunity for improvement in energy performance.

This effort will entail the identification of applicable public buildings and their associated energy data. By accurately identifying Minnesota public buildings and which are least efficient in their energy use, we will be able to realize the greatest savings potential for money that is spent for improvements.

Without a benchmarking effort to identify the least efficient buildings, it would effectively cost more money in improvements to achieve an equivalent annual savings. This is because benchmarking identifies buildings that have the opportunity to achieve a more rapid payback that through the use of a random sampling process.

Thus far, the team has identified a public building list that identifies approximately 6,000 buildings over 5,000 square feet that will be addressed in this effort.

We anticipate that the benchmarking effort will identify approximately 15%, or 900 buildings that have the most value in improvement for energy efficiency.

Design Guideline Initiative


It is the Legislature's goal that all state-funded new buildings meet or exceed specific energy conservation goals. The Legislature wants this goal to take into account building design, the building's occupants and the building's surrounding external environment. 

More specifically, these guidelines are to achieve the following:

  • Exceed existing Energy Code by at least 30% 
  • Encourage continual energy conservation improvements in new buildings 
  • Establish guidelines that: 
        Define air quality
        Create and maintain a healthy environment 
        Facilitate productivity improvements 
        Specify ways to reduce material costs 
        Consider long-term operating costs of the building including use of renewable energy sources. 
An important issue is whether these design guidelines will achieve their intended result.  To assist in measuring this determination, the guidelines will analyze the life-cycle cost of various building designs. This information will assist legislators in analyzing the costs and benefits associated not only with the direct building costs, but also costs associated with effects on the environment and the building occupants. This information will be used by the Legislature in determining funding initiatives.

In Progress

Conservation Benchmarking Initiative.

The next task underway is to collect building profile and energy usage data on Minnesota's 10,000-plus buildings. Given the large number of buildings, this project will focus on collecting targeted information on selected categories of buildings in order to establish a good list of poorly performing buildings.


Over the next 24 months -- through June 30, 2008, the Departments of Administration and Commerce will be:

  • Testing and refining the guidelines through pilot applications to current projects. 
  • Conducting general training through a variety of government and professional venues. 
  • Support to additional projects that may already be in phases of design but wish to test their work against the guidelines. 

Version History 

Version 1.1 - July 2004
Addendum - April 25, 2006
Version 2.0 - September 2006