How to Comply

Learn How to Comply

Multifamily and non-residential buildings 20,000 sf or larger must be accurately benchmarked and reported to the City of Seattle by April 1st of each year (for the prior year's energy use). You must also provide an energy disclosure report if a tenant, buyer or other qualified party requests it from you.

Data Accuracy Requirements

Starting in 2015, reports with unusually low or high (outlier) EUIs and buildings using "default values" for the ENERGY STAR score will be required to make corrections. 

First Time Benchmarking & Reporting?

Learn how to use Portfolio Manager to obtain energy use data from the utilities, determine the building's energy use intensity or EUI (annual energy use per square foot), and set up your building to share the EUI with the City.

Utility Contacts to Obtain Energy Use Data

Additional Information

Prefer to hire a pro to benchmark?

The Northwest Energy Efficiency Council (NEEC), a non-profit energy efficiency trade association, maintains a directory of businesses that can benchmark buildings and help owners use the building's energy data to make informed decisions about energy and money saving upgrades.

Disclaimer: It is the responsibility of the building owner on record to confirm accurate annual compliance. Reports with unusually low or high (outlier) EUIs or other errors will be flagged for accuracy and required to make corrections.

Buildings Required and Exemptions

Multifamily and non-residential buildings 20,000 sf or larger (excluding parking) must be accurately benchmarked and reported to the City of Seattle by April 1st of each year. For more detail on whether or not your building needs to comply, refer to the "BUILDINGS SUBJECT TO REQUIREMENTS" section of the Director's Rule. The City of Seattle determines whether or not a building must comply from King County Assessor records. For more information, contact energybenchmarking@seattle.gov for help. 

Exemptions

Manufacturing Exemption

Under the Director's Rule, buildings used primarily for manufacturing or industrial purposes are exempt from all benchmarking, disclosure, and reporting requirements of this ordinance. This includes buildings used for assembling, disassembling, fabricating, finishing, manufacturing, packaging, repair or processing operations. The primary means of obtaining an exemption is by submitting the building's Certificate of Occupancy to EnergyBenchmarking@seattle.gov, documenting that at least 50% of the building is classified under the current Seattle Building Code as Factory Industrial Group F. For more details and a self-certification alternative, read the Manufacturing and Industrial Exemptions document.

Energy Performance Transparency

On February 29, 2016, the Seattle City Council approved an amendment (Ordinance 125000) to the existing benchmarking regulation (SMC 22.920) to make building energy performance data publicly available. This change follows the norm already established by law in about a dozen other U.S. cities, including San Francisco, Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, and Portland. The goal of making such data publicly available or "transparent" is to create a long-term market demand for energy efficient buildings, protect tenant interests, and reward high-performers. Transparency creates an informed market with the ability to compare energy use (and future operating costs) between similar properties, and use this information to guide purchasing, leasing and financing decisions. The City's goal is to create a framework for the data that is useful to the market, shows the data by building sector, and allows building owners to provide relevant context and note progress towards better energy efficiency.

Director's Rule 2017-01

OSE Director's Rule 2017-01 was published on March 21, 2017 and includes clarification of ordinance requirements including: buildings subject to the requirement; requirements related to annual reporting of benchmarking data; utilities contacts and requirements to provide energy consumption data; requirements related to exemptions and enforcement; and energy performance data to be collected and annually published. 

Individual Building-Specific Data

2015 Building Energy Performance Data*

*2015 individual property data for non-residential, multifamily, and municipal buildings >20k SF

Aggregated 2015 energy performance data is also available at data.seattle.gov. Please note, 2016 energy performance data will be published in the fall of 2017 and annually in the fall for subsequent years thereafter.

2015 Building Energy Performance Data
Energy Benchmarking Map

Use this site to locate buildings geographically, filter by building type, location, site EUI, ENERGY STAR score, and greenhouse gas emissions.

Energy Benchmarking Map

Contextual Comments on Building Performance

Building owners or agents can submit comments annually with benchmarking data to share details that frame their building's performance history. These comments can be used to highlight building uses that may contribute to high energy use, or share work that has been or is planned to make the building more efficient.

  • Comments on 2015 data due December 8th, 2016.
  • Comments on 2016 data due April 1st, 2017.

This opportunity to provide building performance related comments is in response to stakeholder requests. Owners may share website links or provide contact information to allow interested parties to learn more about their asset. To submit comments, email energybenchmarking@seattle.gov and include the following:

  • Building name
  • Seattle Building ID
  • Your name
  • Your organization
  • Your affiliation to the building (e.g. owner, property manager, etc.)

Please provide 2-3 sentences (limit 75 words) and limit content to building performance related comments. OSE will review all comments and may recommend edits to conform to space limitations.

Energy Disclosure Reports

Upon request, building owners are required to provide an energy disclosure report to any current or prospective tenant, buyer, or lender involved with a real estate transaction, a lease, or an application for financing or refinancing of the building.

Owners can respond to an energy disclosure request by providing a Statement of Energy Performance (SEP) which is quickly created from Portfolio Manager (if a building is benchmarked). A SEP showing the building's energy performance ending in December of the prior year is sufficient. The City of Seattle will not provide energy disclosure reports to anyone other than the building owner or the Portfolio Manager Account holder, but will instead refer people to the public-facing energy transparency website (to be available in Fall 2016). Building owners are, however, not relieved of their legal obligation to provide a disclosure report.

Building owners are required to provide a Statement of Energy Performance (SEP) upon request, to:

  • A current tenant - within seven days of the request;
  • A prospective tenant negotiating a lease agreement - within seven days of the request, and at or before the time the owner presents the lease agreement;
  • A prospective buyer negotiating a purchase and sale agreement - within seven days of the request, and at or before the time the owner presents a sales contract;
  • A prospective lender considering an application for financing or refinancing of the building - within seven days of the request, and at or before the time the owner presents a loan application.
  • Lending institutions can request a disclosure report while processing any transaction involving the sale or lease of an entire building or of a separately owned portion of a building (e.g. a condominium unit). A disclosure report can also be requested in conjunction with financing of other activities, such as tenant improvements or a major renovation.    

Failure to respond to an energy disclosure report request is subject to enforcement. 

Asking for an Energy Disclosure Report

Buildings subject to energy disclosure: Owners of commercial and multifamily buildings greater than 20,000 SF must disclose their building's energy performance on request to any of the parties listed above. The owner, at a minimum, should provide you with the Statement of Energy Performance (SEP) ending December of the prior year. The SEP should list the building's Site EUI and ENERGY STAR score.

Failure to disclose building performance information is subject to enforcement. If a request for energy disclosure from a building owner has not been responded to, please contact:

Rebecca Baker - Program Manager
206.615.1171
rebecca.baker@seattle.gov

Deadlines and Enforcement

All non-residential and multifamily buildings 20,000 SF or greater in the City of Seattle are required to annually report accurate energy benchmarking data.

Reports are due each April 1st for the previous year's building energy use. For example, 2017 data is due on April 1, 2018. Visit the How to Comply page to learn how to benchmark and make annual updates.

Year of Energy Data Required Building Type & Size Reporting Deadline
2016 Non-Residential & Multifamily
20,000 SF or Greater
April 1, 2017
2017 Non-Residential & Multifamily
20,000 SF or Greater
April 1, 2018
2018 Non-Residential & Multifamily
20,000 SF or Greater
April 1, 2019

Ordinance Enforcement & Penalties for Non-Compliance

The City of Seattle has the legal authority to assess fines for non-compliance. The Office of Sustainability and Environment (OSE) will attempt to notify owner of record about the requirement to report. If a building is non-compliant, official warning letters will be sent to the owner of record and if known, their registered agent. The warning letters are designed to encourage compliance as they state the time remaining to comply before penalties will be assessed. Finally, a Notice of Violation with penalties is assessed for those in violation with SMC 22.920.  

Penalties for Failure to Report

Failure to submit an accurate annual benchmarking report to the City of Seattle will result in assessed penalties that accrue quarterly, starting 90 days (one quarter) after the reporting deadline for each year of required building energy data. The penalty structure has been designed to encourage compliance. Building owners that do not comply with Seattle Municipal Code 22.920 will be sent a Notice of Violation with an assessed fine amount. If a building owner does not correct the violation within the next 90 days, the penalty increases through a quarterly accruing fine. Quarterly penalty amounts are based on building size:    

  • 50,000 SF or greater non-residential and multifamily buildings = $1,000 per quarter
    Total annual penalty of $4,000 per reporting year.
  • 20,000 to 49,999 SF non-residential and multifamily buildings = $500 per quarter
    Total annual penalty of $2,000 per reporting year.

Penalties will be assessed as follows for the following past due energy reports:

Year of Energy Data Required Building Type & Size Reporting Deadline Penalty for Failure to Report
2016 Non-Residential & Multifamily
20,000 SF or Greater
April 1, 2017 July 1, 2017
$1,000 fine assessed (50K+ SF)
$500 fine assessed (20K+ SF)
(one quarter past due)
2017 Non-Residential & Multifamily
20,000 SF or Greater
April 1, 2018 July 1, 2018
$1,000 fine assessed (50K+ SF)
$500 fine assessed (20K+ SF)
(one quarter past due)
2018 Non-Residential & Multifamily
20,000 SF or Greater
April 1, 2019 July 1, 2019
$1,000 fine assessed (50K+ SF)
$500 fine assessed (20K+ SF)
(one quarter past due)

Notice of Violation

A Notice of Violation (NOV) may be appealed. All appeals will be reviewed through OSE's administrative review process. You must respond to a Notice of Violation within thirty (30) calendar days from the date served. Failure to respond within thirty (30) calendar days will result in entry of an order that you committed the violation and are responsible for the penalties. An appeal response must be in OSE by 5:00 p.m. on the day the response is due. If you request an appeal, you must submit the following form:  

Please download, fill-in, save and email a copy of the form to:

ashley.mcculley@seattle.gov 

Forms may also be dropped off or mailed to: 

Seattle Office of Sustainability and Environment 
Attn: Ashley McCulley 
700 5th Ave, Suite 1868
PO Box 94729
Seattle, WA 98124-4729

How to Appeal an Administrative Review Decision

Following Administrative Review, the appellant has the right to appeal the administrative review decision to the Hearing Examiner. Administrative Review Appeals must be received by the Hearing Examiner within fifteen (15) calendar days from the decision issued date. Any mailed response must be in the Office of the Hearing Examiner by 5:00 p.m. on the day the response is due. Visit www.seattle.gov/examiner or call (206) 684-0521 to learn more.

To avoid accruing penalties you must correct the violation, visit the How to Comply page for instructions.  

Penalty Payment

  • Do not send cash.
  • Print the notice of violation number on the check or money order.
  • Only payments in full will be accepted.
  • A check or money order payable in US funds to the City of Seattle can be mailed to:

Seattle Department of Finance and Administrative Services
Re: Benchmarking Penalty Payment, Treasury Department
PO Box 34214
Seattle, WA 98124-4214

Payment can also be made in person at the Seattle Municipal Tower, 700 5th Ave., Lobby Payment & Information Desk (4th Floor), Seattle, WA.

Additional Fines

A building owner may also be fined for submitting an inaccurate performance report or for failing to disclose energy performance upon request. In addition, a tenant that fails to provide information necessary for a building owner to benchmark may be subject to the fine.  

First violation: $150 fine
Subsequent violations: $500 fine  

For additional questions or to report a request for an energy disclosure report from a building owner that has not been responded to, please contact: 

Ashley McCulley
206-684-3139
Email: ashley.mcculley@seattle.gov