Find Posts By Topic

Seattle’s Large Buildings Reporting Energy Use

87% of Seattle’s Large Buildings Now Tracking & Reporting Energy Use to City
Data will help City and owners cut energy waste and reduce costs

SEATTLE – The vast majority of large building owners and managers in Seattle are now tracking and reporting building energy performance to the City under Seattle’s Energy Benchmarking and Reporting Ordinance. The City now has 2011 energy data on more than 87% of commercial and multifamily buildings 50,000 sq. ft. or larger. This represents about 1,160 individual properties and more than 200 million sq. ft. of building space.

“Seattle’s benchmarking program has helped many building owners who have never tracked energy use before better understand their building’s energy performance. Reporting the information to the City will help us improve and create programs to help owners upgrade their facilities to save energy and money,” said Jill Simmons, Director of the Seattle Office of Sustainability and Environment.

Benchmarking tracks the total amount of energy that a building uses and allows comparisons of energy performance to similar buildings. It is standard practice for owners and managers working to improve building energy efficiency and reduce energy costs.

“Energy bills only tell you so much. Benchmarking lets you see trends and how your building compares with others. As a facilities manager, I am always looking for ways to lower costs, and being energy efficient is a way to do that which benefits my company and its customers,” said Stephen Chandler, Facilities Manager at Verity Credit Union.

Since 2008, Verity Credit Union has reduced its annual energy consumption by 20% by tracking its use through benchmarking and making cost-effective energy efficiency improvements. (More case studies)

Seattle’s benchmarking ordinance requires owners of commercial and multifamily apartment and condo buildings 20,000 sq. ft. or larger to annually benchmark their building’s energy performance and report benchmarking data to the City.

  • Owners of buildings 50,000 sq. ft. or larger were required to submit their 2011 energy data last year.  2012 data for these large buildings should be updated and reported by April 1, 2013.
  • This year, owners of commercial and multifamily buildings 20,000 – 50,000 sq. ft. are required to submit their energy data for 2012 by April 1, 2013. Going forward, updates of the prior year’s energy use are due to the City annually on April 1st.

Once all building owners have reported, more than 290 million sq. ft. or about 4,000 buildings will be regularly tracking and reporting their energy use to the City. Fines are assessed for failure to submit a benchmarking report.

Seattle is one of a growing list of cities with energy benchmarking and reporting requirements. Other major cities that have passed legislation include New York City, San Francisco, Austin, Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia. Unlike many of these ordinances, Seattle’s does not require public disclosure of building energy information. However, Seattle’s law requires that owners make energy information available to tenants, buyers or financial institutions.

The City has developed free services to help building owners learn about the requirement and help them report, including a drop-in help center, benchmarking workshops, daily technical assistance and a how-to guide. Upcoming free workshops are scheduled in February and March.

To learn more, call the benchmarking helpline at (206) 727‑8484 or visit