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 34 U.S. cities or counties with benchmarking laws (as of July 2020), 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 buildings 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 disclosure.

Director's Rule and Municipal Code

Building Data, Analysis, & Energy Benchmarking Visualization Site


Seattle has recently completed a summary analysis report for 2014-2016 reporting data. This builds on past reports for benchmarking data reported for 2011, 2012 and 2013.


Detailed building performance data is now available for 2015 and 2016 through the City of Seattle's Open Data portal where users can download, sort, or filter the data. The portal displays a wide range of both building information-such as address, floor area, age, and building use characteristics-as well as energy performance metrics like energy use intensity (EUI), ENERGY STAR score, and greenhouse gas emissions.

2017 Building Energy Benchmarking Data

2017 Energy Performance Ranges by Building Type

2016 Building Energy Benchmarking Data

2016 Energy Performance Ranges by Building Type

2015 Building Energy Benchmarking Data

2015 Energy Performance Ranges by Building Type

2014 Energy Performance Ranges by Building Type

2013 Energy Performance Ranges by Building Type

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