Benchmarking Buildings

12/29/16 - Information on AB 802 will be coming soon.

Benchmarking and Improving Building Energy Performance with Portfolio Manager and AB 1103

Jump to:
What is Benchmarking
What is Portfolio Manager
What is AB 1103
How to Get Started
Need Utility Data
How to Improve Your Score

Have you ever wondered how efficiently your building operates? Is your building using more energy and water each year or less? Would you know if utility consumption and costs at your facility are higher or lower than similar buildings? You have heard it before: you can’t manage what you don’t measure. That is why benchmarking can be a useful tool to help you reign in unnecessary utility costs and resource use.

What is Benchmarking?
Benchmarking is a way to compare the energy usage in your building to similar buildings across the United States, while normalizing for weather. Benchmarking looks at many factors in a building, including:

  • Square footage
  • Year of construction
  • Number of occupants
  • How the space is used
  • Utility consumption history

These factors create a demographic profile in which standard energy and water consumption can be estimated for buildings of a similar type and used as a means to compare efficiency between buildings. This efficiency value, or ranking, can be used to measure improvements in your own building over time.  Benchmarking can help property managers identify energy efficiency upgrades, reduce utility costs, improve comfort for occupants, thus increasing occupancy rates and property values.

What is Portfolio Manager?

The US Environmental Protection Agency’s Portfolio Manager is the national standard for benchmarking buildings. It is the tool that is required for complying with California Law AB 1103 (details below). Many cities across the country require buildings to be benchmarked in Portfolio Manager.

Based on your inputs about a building, Portfolio Manager will rate the building with a score of 1 to 100 in an efficiency comparison to buildings with a similar demographic. A score of 100 would mean a building is a top performer for energy efficiency. Buildings with a score of 75 or higher are eligible to receive an Energy Star rating. In Palo Alto, any building that gets the Energy Star rating is eligible to receive the
Mayor’s Green Business Leader Award that year!

What is AB 1103?

AB 1103 is a law in California that requires buildings to be benchmarked under certain circumstances. If planning to sell, lease or refinance a property, you may be required to benchmark your building with Portfolio Manager. The AB 1103 website provides more information on how to comply with this law.
How To Get Started

Go to the Portfolio Manager web page and register for an account. Simply enter some basic information about your building, one year or more of utility billing data and you are on your way.

Need Utility Data?

If you need assistance with access to utility data for your building, there are a couple of ways the City of Palo Alto Utilities can help.

  • Sign up for My Utilities Account to easily retrieve your utility usage online. If there is only one Palo Alto utility account for your building and it is in your name, this is the fastest way to access utility data.
  • --OR--
  • Complete a Customer Authorization Form to request your utilities billing history from the City Utility Program Services.
  • You can expect to receive a spreadsheet with your utility account billing history within three business days.

How You Can Improve Your Score

There are many ways to improve operational efficiency of a building. How efficient is your lighting? How well-maintained are your air conditioning and heating systems? Does your building have an energy monitoring or control system to ensure that lights, heating and air conditioning and other equipment is turned on or off  at the beginning or end of the day?

Let us help! The City of Palo Alto Utilities offers many free audit services and programs with financial assistance to help with your building efficiency projects.

Visit our
Efficiency Rebates for Business webpage or call Utility Program Services at (650) 329-2241 to find out more.


Last Updated: Oct 3, 2017
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