Why Benchmarking is Required

Why Benchmarking is Required in Seattle

Buildings account for 33% of Seattle's core emissions. The benchmarking policy supports Seattle's goals to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions from existing buildings. In 2013, the City of Seattle adopted a Climate Action Plan to achieve zero net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. Annual benchmarking, reporting and disclosing of building performance are foundational elements of creating more market value for energy efficiency. 

Benchmarking Benefits:

  • Showing property owners and managers how their buildings are using - and wasting - energy. Benchmarking is a first step towards lowering energy costs and staying competitive.
  • Helping businesses and consumers make more informed decisions that take actual energy costs into account when buying or renting property.
  • Lowering energy costs to owners and tenants, reducing greenhouse gas impacts, and creating jobs in the energy services and construction trades.
  • Establishing energy performance ranges for Seattle building types based on their reported energy use to help owners see how their building's energy use stacks up to their peers.
  • Allowing the City to track its energy reduction goals and target incentive dollars by market sector.  

Seattle is one of 16 U.S. cities with benchmarking laws (as of June 2015), including New York City, Washington DC, San Francisco, Chicago, Austin, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, and Boston. The states of Washington and California also have disclosure policies. Buildingrating.org summarizes current programs.

Annual Reports to the City

Building owners are required to benchmark their properties and authorize the City of Seattle to download annual energy performance data for each building. In April or later of each year, the City will download and store data for all buildings for which it has been authorized. This data are a subset of the information about each building as contained in Portfolio Manager.

Will the benchmarking reports be made public?

Starting with 2015 energy use performance reporting (due April 1, 2016), the City of Seattle will make the data for all building 20,000 SF and larger available via a public-facing website. This update was passed by Seattle City Council on February 29, 2016. The City of Seattle's ordinance also requires that building owners or managers disclose a Statement of Energy Performance Report with tenants, buyers or other qualified parties upon request. Visit the Energy Performance Transparency page for more information about transparency and disclosue.

Director's Rule and Municipal Code

Data Analysis & Energy Benchmarking Dashboard

Seattle has analyzed energy benchmarking data reported for 2011, 2012 and 2013. The first report covers energy use for both 2011 and 2012 and the second report covers 2013 data. Seattle also publishes an online Energy Benchmarking Dashboard that allows comparisons of EUI and ENERGY STAR scores for Seattle buildings. 

According to the 2013 data analysis, buildings with high energy use could save money merely by reducing to about average consumption. The study estimated that a high-energy use medical office building could save about $31,600 annually, just by improving to the Seattle median energy use for medical office buildings. Similar savings scenarios were also found in other sectors like high-rise multifamily buildings and supermarkets.

Preliminary trend analyses suggest that the overall year-to-year building energy performance of all buildings in Seattle is stable or trending positively, with a decrease of .6% in total energy use from 2012 to 2013. Many buildings still have significant room for improvement, however. For example, while 43% of Seattle buildings with an ENERGY STAR score are performing at a good to excellent level,  57% are performing only at a fair to poor level. 

2013 Benchmarking Highlights

Benchmarking Program Contacts

Energy Benchmarking Help Desk

City of Seattle Staff

Rebecca Baker - Program Manager

Terry Sullivan - Program Associate

Ashley McCulley - Coordinator

Seattle Utility Contacts

Seattle City Light - Energy Usage Data

Puget Sound Energy - MyData Energy Usage

EnWave Energy Star Reporting (Seattle Steam)
206-658-2025 or 206-623-6366