Other Benchmarking & Reporting Programs
Seattle is one of a growing number of cities and states with benchmarking laws. Others include:
- New York City
- Washington, DC
- San Francisco, CA
- Austin, TX
- Minneapolis, MN
- Philadelphia, PA
- Washington State
Buildingrating.org summarizes current programs.
What is Energy Benchmarking?
Benchmarking is a method for determining the total amount of energy a building uses (often called energy or building performance). The electricity, natural gas, chilled water, steam, or any other utilities that the building receives are taken into account. Benchmarking allows direct comparisons of building energy use to the average for similar buildings by normalizing for variables such as local climate, square footage, occupancy levels, number of computers, and operating hours. The U.S. EPA’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, a free and secure online tool, is the standard for benchmarking.
Save Time and Maintain Tenant Privacy
To save owners and managers the effort of manually entering data each month, Seattle City Light, Puget Sound Energy (PSE) and Seattle Steam offer “Automated Benchmarking” – a direct upload of a building’s summarized utility usage toPortfolio Manager.
Automated benchmarking also maintains tenant privacy by creating a “virtual” meter that summarizes individual tenant’s meters at the whole building level. Owners will not see a tenant’s meter reading (unless they pay the bill) and they will not need to ask for a tenant’s permission.*
Step 3 of the How to Guide shows how to set up Automated Benchmarking. Since utilities have up to 60 days to upload utility data, we recommend starting to comply with the benchmarking program well before the deadlines.
*NOTE: With one minor exception for PSE gas customers only: If there are four (4) or less tenants in a building that separately receive service from PSE, have each complete, sign and submit the PSE Customer Data Release Form. A cover letter from the city is also available to show your tenants.
Benefits of Benchmarking
- Track and assess the energy performance of buildings
- Target priority energy-efficiency improvements
- Partner with utilities to implement energy-efficiency projects—some of which may qualify for financial incentives, or be low or no-cost
- Track improvements on an ongoing basis
- Become more competitive in the real estate market-place. Energy-efficient buildings:
- Cost less to operate
- Have higher net operating incomes (NOI)
- Greater asset values
- Better tenant retention and acquisition.
Benchmarking data for energy-efficient buildings, such as offices, grocery, retail and others, can also be used to achieve the ENERGY STAR. According national study in 2008 by the CoStar Group, rental rates in ENERGY STAR-rated buildings command a $2.40 per square foot premium over similar buildings and have 3.6% higher occupancy rates. Another study found that ENERGY STAR properties sold for 16% more than identical buildings without the ENERGY STAR. Read about some proven results in Seattle.
Understanding Energy Performance Data
After a building is benchmarked, a one-page Statement of Energy Performance can be created from Portfolio Manager that summarizes the building’s energy performance. Get started: