At a meeting next week the South Portland Planning Board will hold a public hearing on proposed zoning amendments that would require certain property owners in the city’s Mill Creek neighborhood to keep track of their utility usage.

The idea behind the new rules is is to “encourage smarter and more efficient building energy consumption,” according to a document prepared by the planning office.

“By showing building managers and owners how their buildings consume energy relative to other similar buildings, opportunities for improvement may be found and pursued. As a result greenhouse gas emissions will fall” with improved energy efficiency, the document said.

Tex Haeuser, the city’s planning director, said the new requirements would apply to non-residential buildings in the area roughly between E Street and Broadway. It would apply only to those buildings that are 5,000 square feet or larger. There are about 30 such buildings.

The document created by the planning office argues that requiring large building owners to track and publicly report their energy use leads to significant energy savings and beneficial changes in the overall energy market, as well.

The City Council has the ultimate say on whether the new energy reporting rules are adopted, but if approved, recordkeeping would begin on Jan. 1, 2017. Then, no later than Sept. 1, 2019, the city must make the data gathered available to the public.

The Planning Board will meet at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, July 26, at City Hall.

– Kate Irish Collins

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