MEP CA AB 1103

US Benchmarking Laws: Where Do YOUR City and State Stand?

MEP Energy Star CertificationrAs our cities grow and our population increases, Americans are looking for ways to maintain and improve our society's infrastructure. Because our cities and the buildings within them are major consumers of natural resources, legislators have been turning their eyes toward the nation's cities with the hopes of decreasing waste and optimizing building energy efficiency. One major way they have done this is by passing energy benchmarking and disclosure laws.

The hope is that by making it mandatory for building owners and operators to track their energy consumption there will be an increase in awareness of energy usage. In cities where disclosure of energy use is required by law the goal is that operators and owners who do not particularly care about their energy footprint will care about their public image and change their habits accordingly. Whether you are for or against mandatory benchmarking, the practice is undeniably on the rise and changing the way people think about their property's energy use. The following are examples of cities and states that have enacted benchmarking and/or disclosure legislation.

Portland, Oregon
The Portland City Council passed a new policy in early 2015 that requires the owner of any commercial building greater than 20,000 square feet to track their energy consumption and disclose it to the city on an annual basis. This policy is set to impact almost 80% of Portland's commercial square footage and will have approximately 1000 buildings tracking and reporting their energy use. Portland is known for its green policies and culture, and this law will no doubt add to the city's sustainability resume.

San Francisco, California
San Francisco was one of the first cities to get in the game of energy benchmarking and disclosure. The San Francisco "Existing Commercial Buildings Energy Performance Ordinance" was passed in 2011 and is one of the most thorough energy benchmarking and efficiency laws to date. The Ordinance requires annual benchmarking, periodic energy audits and transparency of benchmarking data for non-residential buildings of 10,000 SF and above.

Chicago, Illinois
Chicago enacted the "Energy Use Benchmarking Ordinance" in 2013. This requires that all commercial, residential, and government buildings over 50,000 square feet keep track of their energy use. It also requires they make the information public on an annual basis.

Boston, Massachusetts
Boston's "Climate Action Plan" endeavors to cut the city's green house gas emissions by 2050. This plan, which was passed in 2013, includes "The Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance", which mandates that building owners report energy use, green house gas emissions, and water use. The city will then require that poor performing buildings undergo energy assessments or an energy audit every five years.

Boulder, Colorado
Boulder, Colorado joined the 14 other cities with similar commercial energy requirements in September 2015. According to Boulder's "Building Performance" info-graphic on the city's website, 53% of the city's green house gas emissions are produced by commercial and industrial buildings. The Boulder "Building Performance Ordinance" was enacted to decrease the city's carbon footprint. This requires annual rating and reporting of building's energy use as well as an energy assessment every 10 years. The ordinance also requires a lighting upgrade, as well as building tune-ups every 10 years within two years of the energy assessment. This ordinance will impact approximately 450 buildings that are larger than 20,000 square feet.

AB 802 is an upcoming Assembly Bill in the state of California. CA AB 802 is a statewide mandatory annual energy benchmarking and utility gathering plan for California commercial (and some multi-family) buildings, beginning at 50,000 SF and above, with requirements for smaller buildings rolling out on an annual basis as the program evolves. California AB 802 replaces its predecessor, benchmarking bill AB 1103, and improves upon the infrastructure for collecting utility information by creating requirements for utility companies to track building data as well as provide it upon request.

Benchmarking laws are forcing Americans to take a more active role in energy conservation and energy awareness. As the image above illustrates, the past 5 years have seen more and more laws enacted in cities and states across the country. If the trend continues on its current pace benchmarking and transparency laws will be the norm and not the exception in large US cities. As the laws roll out more and more buildings will be required to comply. Make sure you are familiar with your city's ordinance by contacting MEP. MEP has a long history helping its clients comply with benchmarking laws and we would be happy to get you up to speed and help you take the necessary steps to comply with the legislation in your city or state.

Benchmarking is easier now than it ever has been. Increasing legislative and demonstrative fiscal incentives make it hard to see the downside to performing an energy benchmark. Contact MEP today for more information on our Utility Data Management Software program, ENERGY STAR, LEED and mechanical-electrical-plumbing energy efficiency engineering design at or call us at 310-782-1410.