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Energy Benchmarking: Buildings >50K sf Must Report in 2015 (Deadline Extended)

August 19, 2015

Note: The City of Chicago has extended the 2015 Energy Benchmarking compliance date from June 1 to August 1 due to the expected increase in buildings that will be reporting this year. In 2015, the Chicago Energy Benchmarking Ordinance will apply to commercial and municipal buildings larger than 50,000 square feet and residential buildings  larger than 250,000 square feet.

This year, the City will treat completed benchmarking submissions received by August 1, 2015 as in compliance with the ordinance. After 2015, June 1st will remain the ongoing annual deadline. Click here for more information on the Chicago Energy Benchmarking Ordinance.

In September 2013, Mayor Emanuel and Chicago’s City Council adopted the Chicago Energy Benchmarking ordinance. The ordinance calls on existing municipal, commercial, and residential buildings 50,000 square feet and larger to track whole-building energy use, report to the City annually, and verify data accuracy every three years. The law covers less than 1% of Chicago’s buildings, which together account for roughly 20% of total energy used by all buildings, and focuses on creating information that will enable better decision-making around building energy use. For more details on the ordinance, visit the City’s website.

In 2014, almost 350 commercial and municipal buildings spanning 260 million square feet of space complied with the Ordinance, representing approximately 11% of citywide energy use. For a summary of 2014 findings, please see the 2014 Chicago Energy Benchmarking Report and Infographic.

In 2015, the Ordinance applies to commercial and municipal buildings larger than 50,000 square feet and residential buildings larger than 250,000 square feet. (Beginning in 2016, the ordinance will also include residential buildings 50,000-250,000 square feet.) All covered buildings must benchmark energy use and report to the City of Chicago using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, a free online tool available through the US EPA. Buildings that comply for the first time in 2015 must also have their data verified by an in-house or 3rd party individual who holds one of six credentials recognized by the City. Data verifier information must be included as part of each building’s report to the City. Ordinance exemptions are available for buildings facing financial hardship, new construction, or low occupancy.

In April, covered buildings will receive 2015 Chicago Energy Benchmarking notification letters from the City of Chicago, and a sample notification letter is available online. Building representatives can also find out whether their properties are covered and/or request a Chicago Energy Benchmarking building ID online. For tracking purposes, each building’s Chicago Energy Benchmarking ID (which also appears in building notification letters) – must be included with reported data.

All submissions received by August 1, 2015 will be treated as in compliance with the ordinance this year. After 2015, June 1st will remain the ongoing annual deadline.

Extensive building support opportunities include a full-time phone and email help center, step-by-step benchmarking instructions, free in-person and web-based benchmarking trainings, utility aggregation of electricity and natural gas data, special guidance for residential buildings, and pro-bono data verification support for buildings in-need.

For more information, please visit The Chicago Energy Benchmarking Help Center is available to answer any questions at (855) 858-6878 (M-F 9am-5pm) and