Benchmarking Your Building

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What is Energy Benchmarking?

Energy benchmarking is the practice of tracking a building’s energy usage and using a standard metric to compare the building’s measured energy performance over time and to similar buildings nationwide.

Building owners can access their building’s energy performance data and track it over time and/or compare it to other buildings using the ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager®. Portfolio Manager will give your building a score from 1 to 100. The higher the number, the more efficiently your building uses energy. The score will allow you to compare energy usage year-to-year and verify the energy savings from efficiency improvements.

Why Should Building Owners Benchmark their Buildings?

It's the law. As of January 1, 2017, owners of buildings greater than 50,000 square feet. must comply with California’s Assembly Bill 802: Building Energy Use Benchmarking and Public Disclosure Program. The bill is aimed at increasing the availability of building-wide energy use data that will help building owners manage their energy use. For details regarding this law, please visit the California Energy Commission Benchmarking website. If you still have questions please review our FAQs below or download the flow chart.

Rising energy costs mean that energy now represents a significant portion of operating budgets for buildings across the nation. Using energy benchmarking has been shown to drive energy efficiency upgrades, reduce energy use, and increase occupancy rates and property values. Building owners that engage in energy benchmarking can also gain ENERGY STAR® recognition by benchmarking their buildings.

Steps to Benchmarking Your Building

Step One

Step Two

  • Once these completed forms are received, City of Palo Alto Utilities (CPAU) will reach out to you by phone or email to confirm building and account holder information, and identify all associated meters.
  • After confirming all necessary information, CPAU will compile and send the data to you by email within 14 days.

Step Three

Note: You will need to know some basic information like all meter numbers, building square footage, year of construction, number of occupants and how the space is used at this time. If you need help setting up your Portfolio Accounts, let us know.

Get Started

Frequently Asked Questions

When do I need to start reporting to the California Energy Commission (CEC)?

  • 6/1/2018 Commercial Reporting to the CEC begins.
  • 6/1/2019 Multifamily Reporting to the CEC begins.

Who has to report?

  • This program applies to nonresidential buildings above 50,000 gross square feet of floor area and multifamily buildings over 50,000 gross square feet with 17 or more utility accounts.
  • The Energy Benchmark reports are due annually for commercial buildings starting on June 1, 2018.
  • Multifamily buildings begin reporting June 1, 2019.
  • The results of the Energy Benchmarks will be made public a year after the first Benchmark reports are due.
  • AB 802 requires utilities to provide the required energy consumption data (13 months of energy-use data) within 14 days of the request. The utility will provide "whole building" (aggregated) energy-use data to building owners without obtaining tenant authorization - if the number of utility accounts in the building meet the required minimum.

Where will I get the building’s consumption data?

The City of Palo Alto Utilities (CPAU) can supply you with your utility consumption data. You can request the data by sending an email to this email address:

When will tenant authorization be required?

Tenant authorization will be required under these conditions:

  • If you are the building owner but not the utility account holder.
  • For buildings with fewer than three commercial utility accounts.
  • For buildings with fewer than five residential utility accounts.
  • For buildings with fewer than a combination of five residential and commercial utility accounts.

What can happen if a building owner does not comply with the law?

Building owners who do not comply (as well as those submitting incorrect or incomplete data) are subject to civil penalties. The California Public Resource Code §25321 has set this amount at $500 to $2,000 per day.

Are any buildings exempt?

Some reporting exemptions apply if:

  • The building did not have a certificate of occupancy during the 12-month reporting period.
  • The building is scheduled to be demolished within one year of the reporting data.
  • The building is covered by an approved local building energy-use benchmarking program. The building has more than half of the gross floor area used for scientific experiments requiring a controlled environment or industrial purposes.

What do I do with the consumption data once I get it from the City of Palo Alto Utilities?

The building data will be placed into a template spreadsheet provided by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and uploaded into the software program called Portfolio Manager.

Will I have to create an account for my building to use the Portfolio Manager software?

Yes, each building owner will have to have an account to use Portfolio Manager.

Where can I create a Portfolio Manager account for my building(s)?

You can create an account for your buildings by visiting the ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager® website.