What is Benchmarking?
Benchmarking refers to measuring a building’s energy consumption. Enacting building benchmarking ordinances is becoming a more common approach for jurisdictions to increase transparency and accountability for how buildings use energy. Benchmarking ordinances can also help cities achieve their climate and sustainability goals. The State of Colorado, cities such as Boulder, Denver and Fort Collins in Colorado, and cities across the country including Boston, Chicago, Des Moines, Kansas City, Los Angeles, New York, Orlando, Seattle, and Washington, D.C., have passed ordinances requiring building owners to report their energy use on an annual basis. In addition to tracking energy use, some jurisdictions also include requirements to track and report water consumption. The data is often shared on a publicly-accessible online map or database.
The majority of programs require that building owners enter their data using the EPA’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, a free energy, water, and waste management software tool. Buildings can receive an ENERGY STAR score, on a 1 to 100 scale, which compares a building’s energy performance against similar buildings across the country. A score of 50 represents the median, while a score of 75 means that the building performs better than 75 percent of similar buildings nationwide.
Many ordinances require reporting for buildings that meet a minimum square footage, for example buildings 25,000 square feet or larger. Benchmarking programs enable building owners to identify buildings that use more energy and water, evaluate cost-effective savings opportunities, and prioritize investments in efficiency upgrades. Some jurisdictions have also enacted performance standards which require buildings to meet a minimum ENERGY STAR score or conduct efficiency assessments or upgrades.
Here are links to benchmarking programs across Colorado:
- Boulder’s Building Performance Program; Ordinance No. 8071
- Denver’s Benchmarking Program
- Fort Collins’ Building Energy and Water Scoring; Ordinance 2018-144 - The Building Energy and Water Scoring program requires transparency of energy and water efficiency of commercial and multifamily buildings 5,000 square feet and above.
Colorado's Statewide Benchmarking Program
House Bill 21-1286, “Energy Performance for Buildings,” passed the Colorado General Assembly on June 8, 2021 and went into effect on September 6, 2021. The bill requires owners of large commercial, multifamily, and public buildings 50,000 square feet or more in Colorado to report their annual energy use to the Colorado Energy Office (CEO) through ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, a free energy management tool used to track and assess energy and water consumption. By measuring and tracking energy use in buildings, also known as benchmarking, building owners and tenants can better understand how their building’s energy performance compares to similar buildings and identify opportunities to cut energy waste. The first benchmarking reporting deadline for building owners is December 1, 2022, for calendar year 2021 energy use data. The law also establishes building performance standards with which buildings will have to comply. A BPS Task Force will develop recommendations for the standards and submit them for review to the CEO Executive Director and then to the Air Quality Control Commission to establish rules. If you have any questions about this legislation, please email Crystal Egelkamp.
Building Performance Colorado (BPC)
Building Performance Colorado (BPC) is Colorado’s statewide benchmarking program created as a result of HB21-1286 and aims to increase energy efficiency and decrease greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the building sector. This program includes training and a dedicated help center to assist building owners in understanding and complying with the benchmarking requirements. Please visit the Building Performance Colorado website to learn more about the State's benchmarking program and how to submit your benchmarking report. In order to find out if a building you own is covered by the Statute, please use this Building ID Search Tool. If you have any questions about the Building Performance Colorado program, please contact email@example.com.
Utility Data Requirements and Data Accelerator Coalition
CEO is providing one-time grants to Colorado utilities to assist them with implementing solutions to meet the data requirements outlined in HB21-1286, the Energy Performance for Buildings Law. The intent of this funding is to help utilities streamline the process of sharing aggregated energy use data with building owners and to improve benchmarking reporting compliance. The application period to request funding is now closed. Utilities will be notified of the grant decisions in early March.
The requirements for qualifying utilities as established in C.R.S. 25-7-142 (4) are as follows:
On or before June 1, 2022, a qualifying utility shall:
- Establish an aggregation threshold that is four or fewer utility customer accounts;
- Publish its aggregation threshold on its public website; and
- Upon request of an owner of a covered building, begin providing energy-use data to the owner.
Energy-use data that a qualifying utility provides an owner must be:
- Available on, or able to be requested through, an easily navigable web portal or online request form using up-to-date standards for digital authentication, including single one-time passwords or multi-factor authentication;
- Provided to the owner within:
- Ninety days after receiving the owner's valid written or electronic request if the request is received in 2022;
- Thirty days after receiving the owner's valid written or electronic request if the request is received in 2023 or later;
- Directly uploaded to the owner's benchmarking tool account, delivered in the spreadsheet template specified by the benchmarking tool, or delivered in another format approved by the office;
- Provided to the owner on at least an annual basis until the owner revokes the request for energy-use data or sells the covered building;
- Provided regardless of whether the owner is named on the utility account for the covered building; and
- If the qualifying utility is an investor-owned utility, provided in accordance with the public utilities commission's rules concerning customer data and personally identifying information.
For covered buildings that do not meet the qualifying utility's aggregation threshold, and thus require utility customer consent to access or share energy-use data, the consent:
- May be in written or electronic form;
- May be provided in a lease agreement provision;
- Is valid until the utility customer revokes it; and
- Is not required if a utility customer vacates the covered building before explicitly denying the owner consent to access and share the utility customer's energy-use data.
CEO formed a Utility Data Accelerator Coalition in order to educate and prepare utilities to meet future data disclosure requirements under the statewide benchmarking and energy performance statute. The Coalition provided information and assistance to utility representatives through monthly workshops from January through June 2021. We created the Colorado Utility Data Access Best Practices Guide to support utilities in their efforts to provide building owners with access to whole-building data.
Presentations, recordings (on YouTube), meeting notes, and resources for each workshop are available at the links below.