DC Sustainable Energy Utility
Your Guide to Green

Benchmarking Help Center

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. By 2014, all District buildings (commercial and multifamily) over 50,000 square feet will fall under this requirement.

In response to the District’s new regulation, the DCSEU created the Benchmarking Help Center. This center will be available to guide building owners and property managers through benchmarking in ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager, answer general questions about the regulation, and assist with data collection.

Contact the Benchmarking Help Center

Hours: Callback service on Monday – Friday during normal business hours

Phone: 202-525-7036

E-mail: benchmarking@dcseu.com

Need assistance beyond the Benchmarking Help Center? View the list of DC Benchmarking Service Providers (pdf).


The DCSEU organizes ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager trainings throughout the fall. Please check the DCSEU Events page or contact the Help Center for more information on when these trainings will be held. Official documents about the benchmarking regulation can be found on the DDOE’s website.

What is benchmarking?

Benchmarking refers to the process of evaluating the relative efficiency of a building and monitoring it over time. In order to make effective improvements that can save you money, it is critical to establish context through tracking over time and through comparisons with buildings of the same peer group.

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. If your building is one of the 15 commercial building types eligible for a rating, you will be able to compare your building to similar buildings nationwide. If you score above 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 you can receive an ENERGY STAR label. 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.

How do I get access to my building’s utility bills?

If you don’t know your whole-building energy use, but handle all utility bills, your utility company will provide you access upon request. If you have separately metered tenants, you will need to get utility data from the non-residential tenants in order to account for all energy use. The forms needed for these data requests can be found on the District Department of the Environment’s benchmarking website.

If you are benchmarking in order to comply with District laws, then your non-residential tenants are required to provide you with the energy, water, and space use data needed by Portfolio Manager.

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

It is also possible to benchmark only common spaces, which is still quite useful for monitoring energy use over time. If you have a multifamily building with separately metered tenants, you may only be able to benchmark common areas accurately.

Is my building required to benchmark by DC law?

By 2014, all commercial and multifamily buildings over 50,000 square feet will be required to report benchmarking data to the District on a yearly basis.

The initial reporting deadlines are staggered according to building size.

  • Buildings over 200,000 square feet will report results from 2010 and 2011 utility data by the first deadline.
  • Buildings between 150,000 square feet and 200,000 square feet will report results from 2011 utility data by the first deadline.
  • Buildings over 100,000 square feet must report results from 2012 utility data by April 1, 2013.
  • Buildings over 50,000 square feet must report results from 2013 utility data by April 1, 2014.

All reporting is completed through EPA’s free Portfolio Manager program. The DC SEU and the DDOE will be providing trainings for building owners on an ongoing basis. DDOE will disclose summary data on buildings online beginning with the second year of data for any building covered under the regulation and the corresponding dates above.

More information is available on the DDOE’s benchmarking website.

How do I start benchmarking my building?

  • Collect required space use and utility data, ideally at the whole-building level (see “District Data Collection Worksheet” and the “Compliance Checklist”)
  • Choose either the EPA ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager tool or a third-party tool that can report through Portfolio Manager
  • Evaluate your performance and report to the DDOE using the official reporting template
  • Make improvements as needed (Not sure where to start? Ask an Expert at the DCSEU)
  • Monitor performance after improvements and continue improving score

Energy Benchmarking

By 2014, all District buildings (commercial and multi-family) over 50,000 square feet must use Portfolio Manager to benchmark their energy efficiency and report that score to the city.

DC Sustainable Energy Utility
80 M Street SE, Suite 310, Washington, DC 20003 E info@dcseu.com
P 202-479-2222 F 202-450-1552 Toll-Free: 855-MY-DCSEU (855-693-2738)
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