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What is an energy benchmark?

An energy benchmark is the comparison of a building’s energy efficiency performance to its peers. The result, using the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager software, is a score from 1 to 100, which is roughly equivalent to the percentile. For example, an office building with an ENERGY STAR score of 65 is more efficient (energy/square foot) than 64 percent of the office buildings in the U.S.

Why would someone want or need a building energy benchmark?

Knowing how your building is performing will allow you to gauge the efficiency compared to other benchmarked office buildings throughout the U.S. It is similar to knowing how your car’s gas mileage (MPG) compares to its competitors.

energy-star-logoBenchmarking a building with the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager software determines its score. If the building scores 75 or higher, it is eligible for the prestigious ENERGY STAR label.

What is the California Commercial Building Energy Use Disclosure Program (AB 1103)?

The purpose of the program is to help raise awareness and encourage building owners to find ways to increase energy efficiency in existing nonresidential buildings across the state of California. The program is designed to help California meet energy and climate change goals.

When a commercial building is bought, leased by a single tenant, or refinanced in California, the seller must provide an energy benchmark disclosure report. ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager is the required software. Failure to provide an energy benchmark disclosure report could jeopardize the transaction and possibly result in legal consequences.

The implementation schedule is:

  • January 1, 2014, for buildings with total gross floor area measuring more than 10,000 square feet.
  • After July 1, 2014, for buildings with a total gross floor area measuring 5,000 square feet and greater.

To whom do I need to disclose my building’s ENERGY STAR score?

The Data Verification Checklist report, including the ENERGY STAR score, produced in Portfolio Manager, must be provided to a prospective buyer or lessee at least 24 hours prior to a signature agreement and to a prospective lender no later than submittal of the loan application. The Data Verification Checklist must also be submitted to the California Energy Commission at: within 30 days of producing the report.

The Data Verification Checklist includes:

  • Disclosure Summary Sheet
  • Statement of Energy Performance
  • Data Checklist
  • Facility Summary

Will a building’s energy efficiency score become public information?

Not necessarily. Initially, the energy benchmark is only for stakeholders involved in the sale, lease or finance transaction. However, in some U.S. cities the building’s energy use may become public one year after the first benchmarking summary report is due. This gives the building owner time to improve energy performance before the information is released to the public.

What are the pros and cons of having my building benchmarked?


  • Knowledge of your building’s benchmark score is empowering. Knowing your score will provide additional information and perspective about its competitiveness in the marketplace.
  • The cost of the benchmark is small compared to the building’s economic potential.
  • Competitors are benchmarking their buildings and some are making cost-effective investments to attract and retain tenants.
  • Waiting until the last moment—during a transaction—could result in an unpleasant surprise. A low score could jeopardize the transaction.
  • Some buildings may already qualify for the ENERGY STAR rating. It would be unfortunate to have your building qualify and not know it.
  • If your building’s rating is within reach of the 75 rating (eligible for the ENERGY STAR label) it may be cost-effective to invest in a lighting, HVAC or controls upgrade to achieve the ENERGY STAR designation.


  • There is a cost for having a building benchmarked, typically a few hundred dollars.
  • Energy Benchmark Services

    1250-I Newell Ave., Ste. 150
    Walnut Creek, CA 94596