The vast majority of large facility owners and managers in Seattle, WA are now tracking and reporting building energy performance to the city under Seattle’s Energy Benchmarking and Reporting Ordinance. The city now has 2011 energy data on more than 87% of commercial and multifamily buildings 50,000 square feet or larger. This represents about 1,160 individual properties and more than 200 million square feet of building space.
“Seattle’s benchmarking program has helped many building owners who have never tracked energy use before better understand their building’s energy performance. Reporting the information to the City will help us improve and create programs to help owners upgrade their facilities to save energy and money,” says Jill Simmons, director of the Seattle Office of Sustainability and Environment.
Benchmarking tracks the total amount of energy that a facility uses and allows comparisons of energy performance to similar facilities. Says Stephen Chandler, facilities manager at Verity Credit Union, “Energy bills only tell you so much. Benchmarking lets you see trends and how your building compares with others. As a facilities manager, I am always looking for ways to lower costs, and being energy efficient is a way to do that which benefits my company and its customers.” Since 2008, Verity Credit Union has reduced its annual energy consumption by 20% by tracking its use through benchmarking and making cost-effective energy efficiency improvements.
Seattle’s benchmarking ordinance requires owners of commercial and multifamily apartment and condo buildings 20,000 square foot or larger to benchmark their energy performance annually and report benchmarking data to the city. Owners of buildings 50,000 square feet or larger were required to submit their 2011 energy data last year. 2012 data for these large buildings should be updated and reported by April 1, 2013. This year, owners of commercial and multifamily buildings 20,000 to 50,000 square feet are required to submit their energy data for 2012 by April 1, 2013. Going forward, updates of the prior year’s energy use are due to the City annually on April 1.
Once all facility managers have reported, the city expects more than 290 million square feet (about 4,000 facilities) will be regularly tracking and reporting their energy use to the city. Fines are assessed for failure to submit a benchmarking report.
Other major cities that have passed legislation related to energy reporting include New York City, San Francisco, Austin, Washington, DC, and Philadelphia. Unlike many of these ordinances, Seattle’s does not require public disclosure of building energy information. However, Seattle’s law requires that owners make energy information available to tenants, buyers, or financial institutions.