Benchmarking Instructions

Multifamily and non-residential buildings 20,000 sf or larger (excluding parking) must be accurately benchmarked in the free, online ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager® tool and shared with the City of Seattle to successfully report data annually (for the prior year's energy use). The benchmarking deadline for annual reporting of 2020 data is July 1, 2021.   

Benchmarking and reporting is a multi-step process. This page presents detailed instructions on how to comply with the benchmarking ordinance. Whether it's your first time benchmarking, you are conducting data verification, or you're looking to update your existing profile for annual reporting, review the resources below for instructions. 

Submitting Your First Benchmark Report

If benchmarking and reporting for the first time, you must complete all the following steps to comply with Seattle's benchmarking requirements.

1 - Collect Data
Gather information about the building's use(s) and the energy utilities that serve both common area and tenant spaces.

2 - Set Up Property
Create an EPA Portfolio Manager account and add property.

3 - Obtain Energy Meter Usage Data
Buildings are required to report 12 months of data annually for all fuel sources serving the building. Utilities offer data upload services to help you report tenant energy use to your Portfolio Manager account. 

4 - Confirm Energy Use
Verify all your data has been entered and you can get an energy score.

5 - Add Contacts
Add the City of Seattle Annual Reporting as a contact in Portfolio Manager to submit your report.

6 - Share Building
Share the building in Portfolio Manager with City of Seattle using your Seattle OSE Building ID.  

Key Resources

The following resources will help first time users learn how to benchmark a building using Portfolio Manager from start to finish. The Energy Benchmarking process can take up to four weeks from data collection to report submittal.

Compliance Checklist outlines the steps required to submit a benchmark report. Use the checklist to track your progress during the benchmarking process.

How to Benchmark Guide includes detailed step-by-step instructions to help you successfully benchmark your building and comply with the annual reporting requirement.

Video Tutorials provide energy benchmarking instruction, outline the benchmarking process and include follow-along procedures from start to finish. See the "Video Tutorials and Training" section on this page for a list of videos and additional training information. The complete series is also available here

Portfolio Manager Annual Updates

Seattle's Energy Benchmarking law requires owners to annually confirm that Portfolio Manager accounts are updated and correctly reporting performance to the City. If you reported to the City of Seattle last year, or took over an account that reported last year, use the Annual Update Checklist to confirm property details data and energy consumption data is complete and accurate for the reporting year.

If you have taken over management or ownership of a building you might be able to have the previous account transferred to you. See this FAQ for more. If you can't get access to the previous account you will need to start from the beginning and submit a new report. See "First Time Benchmarking and Reporting" for instructions. 

Tips for Annual Updates 

  1. Check for missing data - all active meters in Portfolio Manager must have 12 moths of data for the required reporting year. 
  2. Check for data anomalies - does your EUI seem significantly higher or lower than the previous year? Check the monthly consumption entries for 0's or other errors 
  3. Update space uses - Did your building have any vacancy or change of tenants? Make sure the spaces in Portfolio Manager are updated to reflect actual property uses and use details for the required reporting year.  The City of Seattle requires data center, laboratory, and restaurant property uses to be included regardless of space use size. For help on how to account for vacancy or update property types and property use details click on the "Portfolio Manager Resources" at the bottom of this instructions page.

Key Resources 

Annual Update Checklist outlines the steps required to update your building in your Portfolio Manager account annually. Use the checklist to make annual updates prior to the reporting deadline. 

Get started! Login to Portfolio Manager to update your account.   

Please note, The City of Seattle does not administer Portfolio Manager. If you are taking over someone's account or need password help, please see our FAQ on how to contact EPA for assistance. 

Data Verification

The City of Seattle flags annual benchmarking reports with possible errors and requires owners to complete a data verification process. Possible errors are identified based on a few factors, such as extremely high or low energy metrics, a possible missing fuel compared with previous years, or drastic increases or decreases in energy data. As benchmarking is a best practice for energy management, tracking trends over time, and comparing building performance, the benefits of benchmarking cannot be realized without accurate data.

Reports with possible errors require additional verification, and corrections where required, to be considered compliant. If your report is flagged for verification, you must complete all data verification requirements (see worksheet below) and submit the online verification form.

The most common types of errors found and corrected in Portfolio Manager are incorrect building square footage, incorrect benchmarking of parking square footage, incorrect property types, incorrect or missing secondary space types, missing fuel sources, missing tenant meters or automated data exchange error(s) in monthly consumption.

The resources below will help you complete the verification process. 

Data Verification Requirements Worksheet (pdf) outlines the steps required to verify Portfolio Manager accounts for data accuracy. Use the worksheet to complete the data verification process and make corrections as needed in Portfolio Manager. 

Verifying Benchmarking Accuracy (video) this training video compliments the worksheet and outlines the steps required to verify Portfolio Manager accounts for data accuracy. Watch for more in-depth tutorials and guidance on how to complete the data verification process and make corrections as needed in Portfolio Manager. 

Default Data

Reports with "default values" for the ENERGY STAR score are required to make corrections. Default values are provided within Portfolio Manager to help owners get a quick ENERGY STAR score, when the exact values for the property use details are not yet known. Actual values must be used in EPA Portfolio Manager to obtain an accurate ENERGY STAR score for your property. 

Learn how to fix default data using these guides:

Correcting Default Values - Commercial Spaces outlines the steps required to correct default values in Portfolio Manager for non-residential space uses. 

Correcting Default Values - Multifamily Spaces outlines the steps required to correct default values in Portfolio Manager for residential space uses. 

Accurate annual reporting is a requirement per Seattle Municipal Code (22.920.120). 

After you have finished submitting your benchmarking report or made annual updates, you can check your buildings compliance status for the current reporting year with the online compliance tool.

Check Compliance for 2020 Reporting Here


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 possible errors will be flagged for accuracy and required to make corrections.

DisclaimerIt 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.

Director's Rule

The Seattle Office of Sustainability and Environment's Director's Rule 2017-01 provides additional code interpretation and defines the specific requirements for compliance with the energy benchmarking, disclosure, and reporting law. Procedural details for non-standard building configurations such as campuses, buildings with shared meters or condominium multi-ownership are fully defined. 

Information on How to Obtain Energy Data

Seattle City Light (electricity), Puget Sound Energy (gas), and Enwave Seattle (steam) will upload whole building energy consumption data to your Portfolio Manager account every month via data exchange services upon enrollment. Please see the How to Comply guide for information on how to apply for utility data upload services. It is important to follow the order of benchmarking and enrollment steps as outlined to ensure data is successfully obtained. 

Seattle City Light

Website: Seattle City Light - Building Energy Consumption Data
Email: SCL_Portfolio_Manager@Seattle.gov
Phone: (206) 684-7557


Puget Sound Energy

Website: Puget Sound Energy - MyData Energy
Email: MyData@pse.com
Phone: (425) 424-6486


Enwave (Seattle Steam)

Website: Enwave Seattle - Energy Star Reporting
Phone: (206) 658-2025 

Request an Exemption

Please use the form below if you believe that your building is not covered by the ordinance due to its size (less than 20,000 gross square feet excluding parking) or due to the  current building occupancy use type (vacant, demolition, and/or industrial manufacturing). For all requests, complete the form, indicate which exemption type you are pursuing, and provide supporting documentation. Email signed, complete form with supporting documentation to energybenchmarking@seattle.gov.

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.

The EPA provides additional guidance  for specific benchmarking scenarios. The following resources outline how to correctly benchmark certain building types or space uses in Portfolio Manager.


How to Benchmark a Campus

Use the EPA's guidance with the Seattle Benchmarking How to Guide if you have a "campus" style property.  

Data Center Benchmarking FAQs

The Data Center Property Use Type is for sophisticated computing and server functions, and not server closets or similar spaces. Data centers typically include raised floors, uninterruptible power supplies, and dedicated power and cooling systems. See What is the definition of Data Center? to determine if you should create a separate data center space use in your building's Portfolio Manager account. 

How to Account for Vacant Space

Please review EPA guidance on how and when to account for vacant space in Portfolio Manager for your building. Vacant space is only required as a space use entry for certain building types.

Please note that operational impacts due to the COVID 19 pandemic should follow the following guidance: Which use details should be updated to reflect changes in operations due to COVID? Has COVID affected ENERGY STAR certification?

How to Enter Parking

Use this guidance to determine how and when to include parking in Portfolio Manager. 

How to Account for Solar

Follow EPA guidance on how to account for a building's solar energy production in Portfolio Manager. 

Can't find what you're looking for? The EPA has a searchable online question and answer bank that clarifies many commonly asked Portfolio Manager scenarios. The EPA also sponsors a help desk support center where you can submit your specific benchmarking question or request for interpretation.

ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager Support 

On Demand Instructional Videos

The following video tutorials provide energy benchmarking instruction, outline the benchmarking process and include follow-along procedures from start to finish. Individual videos are linked below, and the complete series is available here.

Getting Started

Data Verification and Accuracy

Beyond Benchmarking

City of Seattle Benchmarking Trainings

From time to time the City of Seattle offers trainings for building owners and managers that are first time users or want a refresher. Make sure you are signed up the Benchmarking E-News for program updates, workshop dates and tips.  

Portfolio Manager Trainings 

 

ENERGY STAR provides various trainings and webinars for beginners and advanced users. Trainings are available here.

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Help Desk - energybenchmarking@seattle.gov - (206) 727-8484

Get Updates - Sign up for the Benchmarking E-News for program updates, workshop dates and tips

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