Penalties

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. Failure to submit an annual report or reports with inaccurate data will result in a Notice of Violation with assessed monetary fines. See below for information on types of violations, how to submit an appeal to request mitigation if you receive a violation, and where to submit fine payment.

For questions related to violations, appeals, or payments, please contact:

Benchmarking Enforcement Coordinator: Ashley McCulley
Phone: (206) 402-1497
Email: energybenchmarking@seattle.gov (include Enforcement in the subject line)

Multifamily and non-residential buildings 20,000 SF or larger (excluding parking) must be accurately benchmarked and reported to the City of Seattle annually (for the prior year's energy use). Visit the Instructions page to learn how to benchmark and make annual updates. 

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.

Enforcement Fines Table

A building owner may also be fined for submitting an inaccurate benchmarking 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 a 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 email energybenchmarking@seattle.gov. 

How to Appeal a Notice of Violation

A Notice of Violation (NOV) may be appealed to request fine mitigation. All appeals will be reviewed through the Seattle Office of Sustainability and Environment'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 received 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 Office of Sustainability and Environment Director's 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 Instructions 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.

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

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