Seattle Energy Benchmarking Ordinance

What is Seattle Energy Benchmarking Ordinance?

The Office of Sustainability and Environment (OSE) Director’s Rule 2017-01 was published on March 21, 2017 and includes clarification of Seattle Energy Benchmarking Ordinance requirements including: buildings subject to the requirement; requirements related to annual reporting of benchmarking data; utilities contacts and requirements to provide energy consumption data; requirements related to exemptions and enforcement; and energy performance data to be collected and annually published. 

Energy Benchmarking allows owners and occupants to understand their building’s relative energy performance which can highlight inefficiencies and opportunities to cut energy waste, reduce emissions, and lead to savings. Sharing this data can drive the market to recognize and reward energy efficiency and create a continuous cycle of improvement and demand for high-performing buildings.

What buildings are required per Seattle Energy Benchmarking Ordinance?

Non-residential or Multifamily buildings over 20,000 square feet excluding parking and which are located entirely within the City of Seattle.

Your building may qualify for an exemption from reporting if:

  • a) Buildings subject to the Seattle Residential Code, which covers detached one- and two family dwellings and multiple single-family dwellings (townhouses) not more than three stories in height with a separate means of egress, and their accessory structures.
    b) Buildings classified under the current Seattle Building Code as Residential Group R-3. This includes all residential occupancies where the occupants are primarily permanent in nature unless the occupancy is classified under R-1, R-2 or I. Per the 2012 Seattle Building Code, Group R-3 includes:
     Buildings that do not contain more than two dwelling units
     Boarding houses (non-transient) with 16 or fewer occupants
     Boarding houses (transient) with 10 or fewer occupants
     Care facilities that provide accommodations for five or fewer persons receiving care
     Congregate living facilities (non-transient) with 16 or fewer occupants
     Congregate living facilities (transient) with 10 or fewer occupants
    c) Buildings used primarily for manufacturing or industrial purposes, as demonstrated by submitting one of the following:
    a. A valid Certificate of Occupancy or construction permit documenting that at least 50% of the building is classified under the Seattle Building Code as Factory Industrial Group F. This includes buildings used for assembling, disassembling, fabricating, finishing, manufacturing, packaging, repair, or processing operations.
    b. OSE’s benchmarking exemption form, in which the Building Owner has verified that:
     Neither they nor OSE staff have been able to locate a Certificate of Occupancy for their building; and
     Their building meets the definition of a Factory Industrial Group F building as classified in the Seattle Building Code

What is the penalty for non-compliance?

Non-compliance fines for RY2023 will be streamlined into a single Notice of Violation issued 90 days after the June 1st reporting deadline in place of quarterly accruing fines.

  • Fines for properties between 20,000 and 50,000 square feet will be $2,000.
  • Fines for properties greater than 50,000 square feet will be $4,000.

What is the compliance process?

Seattle Energy Benchmarking Ordinance requires building owners to report their energy usage data to Energy Star Portfolio Manager, a reporting tool that allows building owners to compare their building’s energy efficiency with similar buildings.

What is the deadline for Seattle Energy Benchmarking Compliance?

The deadline to submit benchmarking data for RY2023 will be June 1st 2024, to mirror the state’s Clean Buildings Performance Standard annual reporting deadline.

What utilities are required for benchmarking reporting?

  • Electricity
  • Natural Gas
  • District Energy
  • Any other purchased fuel

What is the purpose for Seattle Building Energy Benchmarking ordinance?

More than one third of Seattle’s core greenhouse gas emissions stem from buildings. The implementation of a benchmarking policy aligns with Seattle’s objectives to diminish energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in existing buildings. Back in 2013, the City of Seattle embraced a Climate Action Plan aimed at achieving zero net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. The fundamental components of this plan include annual benchmarking, reporting, and disclosure of building performance, all designed to enhance the market value of energy efficiency. Through benchmarking, building owners and occupants gain insights into their building’s energy performance relative to others, uncovering inefficiencies and identifying opportunities to curtail energy waste, reduce emissions, and generate cost savings. The sharing of this data has the potential to incentivize the market to acknowledge and reward energy efficiency, fostering a continuous cycle of improvement and an increased demand for high-performing buildings.

Interested in benchmarking help?

    If you are interested to learn more how Energy Fave can help with Energy benchmarking for your building or if you have more questions about the whole reporting process, feel free to email us: