Benchmarking in DC

Benchmarking is the process of tracking a building’s energy and water usage, using a standard metric to evaluate its relative efficiency over time as well as to compare the building’s efficiency to its peers nationwide. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) free benchmarking software, ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager, has become standard as cities look to drive energy efficiency and utility transparency.

The Clean and Affordable Energy Act of 2008 established that all large private buildings over 50,000 gross square feet and District government buildings over 10,000 gross square feet, must annually benchmark and report their energy and water consumption to the Department of Energy & Environment (DOEE) for public disclosure. The annual reporting deadline is April 1st of each year. Starting calendar year 2021 all privately-owned buildings over 25,000 square feet will be required to benchmark (due April 1, 2022), and starting calendar year 2024 all privately-owned buildings over 10,000 square feet will be required to benchmark (due April 1, 2025), as mandated under the Clean Energy DC Omnibus Act of 2018. DOEE publishes summary results for each building on its website. DOEE also shares all benchmarking data collected with the DCSEU to help the DCSEU in its mission of driving energy efficiency improvements throughout the city.

Please note that emergency legislation has been passed by DC Council that extends this year's deadline for District benchmarking and third-party data verification from April 1, 2024 to July 1, 2024 for calender year 2023. For more information please visit DOEE's Building Performance Helpdesk.

Building Size Reporting Requirement Begins
50,000+ ft2 2014 (with 2013 data)
25,000-49,999 ft2 2022 (with 2021 data)
10,000-24,999 ft2 2025 (with 2024 data)

What Is The Value Of Benchmarking?

The results of benchmarking allow you to make targeted improvements to increase efficiency and to monitor how much was saved after installation. These operational improvements alone can lead to as much as 30% savings in energy costs.

When you benchmark your building using EPA’s Portfolio Manager program, you may be eligible to receive a 1-100 efficiency rating, or ENERGY STAR score. If your building is one of the 21 different building types eligible for a rating, you will be able to compare your building’s performance to similar buildings nationwide. If you score a 75 or higher, then your building is considered to be in the top 25% of all buildings nationwide in terms of energy efficiency and may be eligible for ENERGY STAR certification. Research has shown that properties with an ENERGY STAR label have greater market value.

While not all building types are eligible to receive a rating, almost any building, including multifamily residential buildings, can be benchmarked using EPA’s Portfolio Manager. Of facility managers who have benchmarked using ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager, over two-thirds have used it to justify or guide energy efficiency upgrades.

Educational Opportunities in Energy Benchmarking

With the upcoming Building Energy Performance Standards (BEPS), having accurate and verified benchmarking data is crucial. This data will be used to set the performance standard that the property in question will be required to meet starting in 2021. In the coming years, data verification will need to be conducted by a licensed third-party professional. The DCSEU hosted two 1-hour webinars with Baumann Consulting that provide an overview of building science and how energy modeling can be used to develop strategies for BEPS compliance. The webinars are as follows:

Introduction to Building Science

  • Presentation PDF from Baumann Consulting
  • Energy Modeling For BEPS

    Contact The Benchmarking Help Center

    The Benchmarking Help Center, operated by the DOEE with support from the DCSEU, provides technical support with using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager and guidance on compliance with District regulations. Answers to some of the most frequently asked questions on energy benchmarking can be found on DOEE's Benchmarking FAQ webpage.

    How Do I Get Access To My Building's Utility Bills?

    In order to benchmark your building(s) as required by law, you must collect whole-building energy and water consumption information along with information about how the space is used. Monthly whole-building data is required for all utilities and all building types. Whole-building data refers to energy and water data for the entire property, including all retail, tenant, and common area spaces. This may be in the form of one central meter or a combination of house and tenant meters. Non-residential tenants are required, upon request, to provide their landlord with select information on their energy and water consumption and their use of their leased space. If you have 5 or more electric or natural gas user accounts, you can receive aggregate whole building consumption data from Pepco and/or Washington Gas that will be automatically uploaded to your property in Portfolio Manager.

    Please note that the DC law asks for you to report water use as well energy use.

    How Do I Start Benchmarking My Building?

    • Create an account with Portfolio Manager.
    • Use the data collection worksheet to determine what data you’ll need to enter into Portfolio Manager.
    • Then add your property and add meters in Portfolio Manager. Refer to the Portfolio Manager quick start guide for an overview of the basic steps of using Portfolio Manager.
    • Enroll in automatic reporting through Portfolio Manager.
    • Make improvements as needed (Not sure where to start? Talk to an expert at the DCSEU).
    • Monitor performance after improvements and continue improving score.

    For a more detailed explanation of benchmarking ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager please refer to the Benchmarking Starter Kit.

    How Benchmarking Can Help You Save Energy

    Under an agreement with DOEE, the DCSEU gets a full copy of all benchmarking data reported to the District. The DCSEU uses this data to proactively identify customers and engage with them on how to improve energy consumption in their building and portfolio. After you have benchmarked your building, talk to a member of our Account Management Team to find out how we can help find energy-saving opportunities.