Benchmarking Services

Track Energy & Water Use

Monitoring your building’s energy and water use correctly is the first step – get it right.

Ensure Compliance

Make sure you comply with the strict benchmarking requirements of your City Council.

Avoid Penalties

Never miss the mandatory deadlines to file your whole-building energy and water data.

Benchmarking Services in the USA

New York  |  Orlando  |  Seattle  |  Portland  |  Boston  |  St. Louis

Benchmarking and Transparency (B&T) involves measuring building energy-use data and sharing it widely and openly so that the information can be used to compare its performance with other buildings, and everyone can work towards a common goal. B&T is now a mandatory process in many U.S. cities and it carries harsh penalties if not done correctly and on time.

Deadline and Penalties :

The benchmarking procedure in New York City (NYC) is relatively straightforward.

The Benchmarking Law (Local Law 84) in NYC requires consumers to submit energy and sometimes water consumption data “for public disclosure” by May 1 each year. Even though there is no requirement for a building’s minimum performance, it is mandatory that reports are submitted for buildings specified by the City.

These include city-owned buildings that have an area larger than 10,000 gross square feet and all other buildings with a floor area that is more than 25,000 gross square feet. If two or more buildings on the same tax lot, or are part of a condominium managed by the same board that have a total area exceeding 1000,000 square gross feet, they are also required to comply. If they don’t comply, penalties are levied. There are exceptions, including real property that doesn’t exceed three stories as well as factors that relate to HVAC and hot water systems.

Deadline and Penalties :

Benchmarking in Orlando is governed by the Code of the City of Orlando, Florida which aims to make Orlando a healthier city that can become more prosperous over time.

Annual energy audits that include an analysis of energy, gas, and water, are required to be carried out in May every year. All buildings owned by the city that have a floor area larger than 10,000 gross square feet and both commercial and multi-family buildings that are larger than 50,000 gross square feet are required to produce whole-building use energy benchmarking scores that include natural gas and other fuels as well as electricity.

Orlando doesn’t insist on water benchmarking but encourages it. From May 2020, the city also requires five-year energy audits and if buildings score less than 50%, which is the national average. Also, Orlando focuses on positive issues and rewards those who comply rather than issuing fines for those that do not. Instead, those that don’t comply are labeled as “not participating.”

Deadline and Penalties :

The City of Seattle’s Building and Construction Code includes a chapter on Energy Use Benchmarking and this is the law that governs B&T.

The aim of the City is to help property owners and building managers realize just how much energy they are using, or more so, how much they are wasting.

Like everywhere else, the idea is to help them take active steps to reduce energy use and avoid the impacts of greenhouse gases as far as possible.

Building owners are required to authorize the City to download the annual data for the year and store and share it. The City makes data for buildings with an area of more than 20,000 gross square feet public. Building owners and managers are also required to share their performance reports with tenants, buyers, and other specified parties. Voluntary benchmarking for smaller buildings and Residential Group R-2 occupancy buildings is encouraged. Results are recorded by April 1 each year. Benchmarking and disclosure are mandatory. If benchmarking is not done or is inaccurate, penalties ranging from $500 to $4,000 may be imposed.

Deadline and Penalties :

The City of Portland has an energy benchmarking ordinance that is incorporated in the Buildings and Buildings Regulations for the City.

It was introduced to encourage the efficient use of energy and water and to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, and requires certain properties to report energy and water usage.

Buildings covered include municipal properties owned by the City that have one or more buildings that are at least 5,000 gross square feet in size, non-residential structures that are more than 20,000 gross square feet in size, as well as other carefully defined residential buildings.

All single-occupant buildings, which have a tenant that uses at least 90% of the building, have until May 1, 2020, to comply. All other properties required to report must do so in terms of the requirements of the Portland Sustainability Office that relate primarily to size and require information about electricity, heat, water, and natural gas usage. Violations are enforced with written warnings followed by fines that are estimated at $20 per day in accordance with the regulations.

Deadline and Penalties :

The Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO) is the City of Boston’s legislation that covers B&T.

Like most other major cities in the U.S. Boston requires property and building owners and operators to measure their energy and water usage and report it using the EPA’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. However, their compliance date is May 15, which is middle of the month. Buildings required to be benchmarked are non-residential that are 35,000 gross square feet or more or residential buildings 35,000 gross square feet or more, or those that have at least 35 units. If multiple buildings total 100 units or are 100,000 square feet in size, they also need to comply.

Building owners are required to complete an energy assessment or energy action every five years from 2019. Unlike some other cities, Boston threatens substantial penalties for non-compliance ranging from $35 to $200 for just one violation, depending on the size of the building. At the same time, the City encourages EPA ENERGY STAR and LEED certification and is working on increasing the number of zero-net-energy/carbon and E+ buildings.

Deadline and Penalties :

The City of St. Louis is bound by its Building Energy Awareness Ordinance that became effective in 2017. Like many other cities, it has an annual reporting deadline of May 1. All buildings, whether municipal, commercial, multifamily, or institutional, that are larger than 50,000 gross square feet are required to benchmark, and owners are required to disclose their annual energy and water consumption.

Condominiums are also included in the legislation. Written warnings are given to those who don’t comply, and if they still don’t comply, St. Louis municipal officials issue fines between $20 and $200. It gets worse from there, and it’s not just about the money. If buildings are not compliant they won’t be eligible for occupancy permits whether these are new or for commercial rights.

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  • Benchmarking completed within 2 weeks
  • Evaluation of all utility bills
  • Calculation and verification of all consumptions
  • Analysis of energy, gas, and water usage
  • Assurance of annual compliance

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B&T in the U.S.

Benchmarking_Image The U.S. building sector uses about 40% of the nation’s energy, costing building owners and operators hundreds of billions of dollars every year. But buildings don’t use the same amount of energy, and it’s not entirely to do with size or what the building is used for. Rather, it’s got to do with performance. Shocking statistics show that buildings with a high energy performance use as much as seven times less energy than the poorest performing buildings.

As a result, in less than a decade, Benchmarking and Transparency (B&T) policies have become the focal point of a new policy area that focuses on measuring the long-term energy use of buildings that are a similar size and type. Once energy use has been measured the data is openly shared, encouraging absolute transparency and accountability. 

Across the board globally, the EPA ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager is the most popular free online tool used for reporting.

Building owners, managers, and operators are able to use data collected via these policies to identify ways of cost-effectively reducing energy and water wastage. Local and state governments can use the data to help achieve specific economic goals including improved property values and increased employment opportunities. The data is also an invaluable source for energy efficiency programs.

B&T is such a successful strategy that an increasing number of U.S. cities and other jurisdictions have adopted benchmarking policies that require those in control of the running of buildings to report on energy consumption and openly disclose the energy performance of them. Building energy scores have been equated with nutritional labels used on packaged food and the miles-per-gallon fuel ratings used for vehicles. By sharing this information, those running buildings can make better-informed decisions that affect energy use and utility costs, including identifying opportunities that help to reduce waste.

While the benchmarking legislation of individual cities is not exactly the same, strategies are very similar. Generally, the buildings that have the highest environmental impact are the ones that must comply with benchmarking legislation. But, in all instances, it is vital to know the benchmarking deadlines, what is required, and what the penalties will be if the deadline is not complied with.

offers top-notch services to six of the cities that require mandatory benchmarking.

Benefits of Energy Benchmarking & Transparency

The great thing about B&T is the benefits for consumers, building owners, businesses and government agencies. These include:

  • Energy and cost savings : Buildings waste energy that costs our country millions of dollars every year. Benchmarking is a proven way to save both energy and money. U.S. buildings that have been benchmarked have reduced their energy consumption by about 2.4% annually over three years according to the U.S. Institute for Market Transformation (IMT).
  • Market competition and consumer choice :The transparency associated with benchmarking enables building owners to become and remain competitive. There is no doubt that energy-efficient properties have greater occupancy levels and they sell for more money.
  • Smarter utilities and governments : Benchmarking provides incredible insight into how buildings are performing and what can be done to improve this performance. Energy-efficiency and performance are interlinked with savings and B&T helps it happen much more rapidly. It makes perfect sense.
  • Economic growth :Knowledge is everything and when there is reliable information about building performance and other issues, the playoff is increased demand for skilled workers in the sector and energy-efficient products to achieve their goals. This also translates into job creation.

While the positive results of benchmarking are not the same in different cities, nor are the performance metrics that need to be considered. But what is important is for benchmarking to be done accurately so that impacts can be assessed and building energy and water use can be improved.

ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager

Benchmarking Image 3

The virtual star of all benchmarking programs, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager free online tool is key to measuring greenhouse gases and tracking energy and water consumption in buildings. It is currently the very best tool for measuring the carbon footprint of buildings and for benchmarking the performance of buildings.

Unless the performance of buildings is measured, it is impossible to manage them and minimize wasteful use of energy and water and maximize performance.

Portfolio Manager can be used to benchmark any type and size building and with the right information and current utility bills, it isn’t difficult to do. But different cities have different requirements, which is why it’s important to make sure that the correct data is added to Portfolio Manager the right way. If there are inaccuracies, there is a very real chance that penalties will be levied.

Know if your property is required to Benchmark annual energy and water use.

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