Save Energy

Save Energy and Reduce Costs

Understanding a building's energy use is the first step towards making informed decisions about energy-saving improvements that reduce costs and can impress current or potential tenants or buyers.

  • For individual buildings, periodically review the building's energy performance to look for changes. A spike in energy use may signal that equipment, such as a large heating unit or pool pump, may be malfunctioning. An energy auditor can help identify the problem and/or suggest operations and maintenance changes that will lead to savings.
  • For multiple buildings, compare the energy use of all buildings and identify assets with the greatest potential for cost savings and investment return. Commercial buildings with an ENERGY STAR score can be compared to other similar buildings and work towards achieving the ENERGY STAR label. A national study by the CoStar Group, found that 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. 
  • Apartment and condo owners and managers can demonstrate their property's progress towards becoming more environmentally-friendly. A recent survey found that half of renters said they would take an apartment community's commitment to environmental issues into consideration when deciding to rent.

Utility Rebates and Assistance

  • Seattle City Light (SCL): SCL's Multifamily Program offers property rebates on lighting, windows, and heating, ventilation and cooling updates (HVAC). For in-unit/apartments, they offer free compact fluorescent light bulbs, showerheads and faucet aerators, and refrigerator replacement rebates.
  • SCL's Energy Smart Services for commercial customers offers financial incentives and technical assistance for both existing facilities and new construction. Visit the links or call an Energy Advisor at 206-684-3800.
  • Puget Sound Energy: Visit the Get Re-Energized! website to learn about rebates and assistance, or call an Energy Advisor at 800-562-1482.
  • Seattle Steam: Visit the Seattle Steam website or call 206-623-6366 to learn how it helps customers benchmark and increase their buildings energy efficiency. 

Resources for Improving Building Energy Efficiency

  • Building Energy Efficiency Checklist: Start with this checklist from the Northwest Energy Efficiency Council (NEEC) to uncover many low and no cost tips for occupants and managers.
  • NEEA BetterBricks: Use this tool matrix (MS Excel Format) to find practices that can help achieve more efficient, lower cost, building operations. The Building Night Walk video series provides real-world examples of common issues easily found during an after-hours facility walk.  
  • ENERGY STAR: Make the business case for energy efficiency at all levels of your organization and follow ENERGY STAR's Guidelines for Energy Management
  • Seattle 2030 District: The Seattle 2030 District is a ground-breaking high-performance building district in downtown Seattle that aims to reduce environmental impacts of building construction and operations, while increasing Seattle's competitiveness in the business environment and owner's return on investment.

What is Benchmarking?

Energy Start PortfolioManagerPortfolio Manager Benchmarking tracks the total electricity, natural gas, steam, or other utilities annually used in a building (often called energy or building performance). The U.S. EPA's ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager is the standard for benchmarking.

Benefits of Benchmarking

  • Compare your building's Energy Scores other buildings in Seattle
  • Track and assess the energy performance of buildings in your portfolio
  • 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 to a 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.

Data Exchange: 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 "data exchange" (formally called automated benchmarking or ABS) - a direct upload of a building's summarized utility usage to Portfolio Manager. Data exchange 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, unless there are 4 or fewer PSE tenants with PSE and only one with Seattle City Light. Since utilities have up to 30 days to upload utility data, we highly recommend starting to comply well before April 1st.

Understanding Benchmarking Scores: EUI and ENERGY STAR

What is an EUI?Benchmarking a building in Portfolio Manager results in two important metrics that tell you a lot about your building's energy use: Energy Use Intensity or EUI (energy use per square foot annually) and the ENERGY STAR score.

EUI is a building's total annual energy use(electricity, natural gas & steam) divided by its gross floor area. It is measured in kBtu/sf. Since EUI normalizes for size, the energy use of similar building types can be compared. Higher EUIs show greater energy use, whereas lower EUIs indicate more energy efficient buildings.

The Portfolio Manager ENERGY STAR score is available for 21 building types, such as offices, hotels, retail, and multifamily housing. It compares a building's energy use to other U.S. buildings on a scale of 1 (least efficient) to 100 (most efficient). A 50 represents the national median and buildings with 75 or better may be eligible to earn ENERGY STAR certification. The ENERGY STAR score adjusts for operations, such as number of workers, operating hours, bedrooms, and other factors depending on building type.

See how your building stacks up!

The City of Seattle developed a data visualization mapping tool to allow the public to quickly explore individual building performance and compare buildings across the city. Users can filter buildings by location, age, building type, and key energy performance metrics to learn more about the buildings in Seattle's Energy Benchmarking program.

Share your results

If you'd like to share a report on your building's energy performance with others, such as tenants or buyers, learn how to Create a Statement of Energy Performance from Portfolio Manager.

Benchmarking & Energy Efficiency Success Stories

Multifamily Properties

Aspira ApartmentsEnergy Efficiency: A Sound Investment | Aspira Apartments
TIAA-CREF regularly tracks energy and water consumption throughout its office, multifamily and retail properties using the EPA's free benchmarking tool, ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager. Since Aspira was already benchmarked and operating efficiently, its managers were able to apply for ENERGY STAR certification when EPA made it available for multifamily buildings in 2014. Aspira earned a 77 out of a possible 100 points--and was one of the first multifamily properties in the nation to do so. Read the Aspira case study.
Escala Condos Luxury Meets Energy Savings | Escala Condos
Built in 2009, this 31-story luxury high-rise condominium has 270 units outfitted with high-end fixtures and appliances. Between 2013 and 2014, the building's energy use remained stable, even as the number of people living there increased. Escala took advantage of new CFL and LED technologies, and added 164 occupancy sensors to further reduce energy costs. As an added benefit, a rebate from Seattle City Light helped pay for more than 44% of Escala's project. As of 2014, the building had an ENERGY STAR score of 80. Its energy use per square foot is also lower than many other high-rise condos in Seattle. Read the Escala case study.
Horizon House Senior Living Greening a Community & Saving Energy | Horizon House Senior Living
Benchmarking helps Horizon House building managers pinpoint energy-saving opportunities and compare its energy use with other retirement communities to make sure it continues to perform efficiently. In 2012, energy, water and waste conservation efforts at Horizon House saved the community more than $50,000 on utility bills, exceeding projected savings by more than $18,000. Horizon House is on track to become an ENERGY STAR-certified residential complex in 2013, after working to improve its score more than five points in two years. Read the Horizon House case study.
Mercer Court Affordable Housing Unlocking Energy Savings in Residential Buildings | Mercer Court Affordable Housing
Benchmarking helped Bellwether identify which of its buildings were the highest energy users and take a strategic approach toward making energy improvements in this affordable housing community. Through benchmarking, Bellwether found that annual utility expenses at Mercer Court were among the highest of all its buildings. The building was a prime candidate for an energy-efficiency overhaul. Read the Mercer Court case study.

Commercial Properties

Verity Credit Union Banking on Energy Efficiency | Verity Credit Union
After benchmarking the energy performance of its headquarters for the first time in 2008, Verity's facilities manager was surprised to find that its energy needs had greatly increased over time. Verity improved the energy efficiency of the building and the energy-use habits of those working inside - while continuing to provide a high level of service to its members. In just five years, the building's energy rating improved from an energy score of 48 to a 74 and the credit union reduced its annual energy consumption by 20%. Read the Verity case study.
Bank of America Fifth Avenue Plaza First Step to Energy Savings | Bank of America Fifth Avenue Plaza
Hines first began measuring and rating, or "benchmarking," the Bank of America Fifth Avenue Plaza building's energy performance using the EPA's free Energy Star Portfolio Manager in 2000. For the first time, Hines was able to compare the building's energy performance to similar buildings in the Seattle area as well as those within the company portfolio. Hines has continued to benchmark and improve the building's energy performance. By making energy-efficiency upgrades to the building, they have seen significant savings in energy and money. Today, the building has an ENERGY STAR rating of 100, the highest score possible. Read the Bank of America case study.
Dexter Horton Building Key to Staying Competitive | Dexter Horton Building
CB Richard Ellis and LaSalle Investment Management are two companies that understand the value of investing in energy efficient buildings and have set high standards for their portfolio. When the two began working together in 2006 as the asset service and management providers for the historic Dexter Horton building, there was a mutual understanding that they would invest in the upgrades needed to make the building as efficient as possible. By using the EPA's free benchmarking tool, ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, they were able to see how the building's energy performance compared to similar buildings and knew there was room for improvement. Making energy-efficiency upgrades have paid off in big way. In just a year's time the Dexter Horton building jumped from an energy rating of 60 to 78 and is currently holding a rating of 96. Read the Dexter Horton case study.

Additional Case Studies