Skip navigation

Translate This Page

Benchmarking Ordinance
 

By June 1st each year all buildings in Denver at or over 25,000 square feet are required to annually assess and report their energy performance using the free ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager tool. The City publishes the building energy performance data at www.energizedenver.org to enable the market to better value energy efficiency.


Explore the Data

All data received through the Energize Denver Benchmarking Ordinance is reviewed for completeness and accuracy. For every report received, the following list of Portfolio Manager fields are reviewed as part of the quality control process.

Data Checks

Fields reviewed for completeness

  • “Denver Building ID” field should have 4 digits and no letters, and should not have "Not Available"
  • “Electricity Use - Grid Purchase and Generated from Onsite Renewable Systems (kWh)” field should have a number > 0 and should not have “Not Available.”
  • The "ENERGY STAR® score" field should have a 1-100 value if the building is eligible to receive an ENERGY STAR Score.

Fields reviewed for data accuracy

  • ENERGY STAR score: not below 3 or above 97
  • Energy Use Intensity (EUI): not below 25 or above 375
  • No natural gas use: There are some all-electric buildings, but other times someone has forgotten to enter natural gas data.
  • Natural gas units wrong or missing steam: If these two are too low, a call is made to find out how the building is heated.
  • Year-over-year changes: Any change in square footage. More than a 10 (ten) percent change in Site EUI, electricity consumption, natural gas consumption, or ENERGY STAR score.
  • Weather Normalized: If the Weather Normalized Source EUI value is zero or N/A
  • No Electric usage: If no electricity usage is included
  • Gross Floor Area(GFA): Owner reported GFA is 10% greater than or less than Assessor reported GFA
  • Office: Weekly Operating Hours unusually low or high
  • Office: Number of Workers on Main Shift unusually low or high
  • Office: Number of Computers unusually low or high
  • Financial Office: Weekly Operating Hours unusually low or high
  • Financial Office: Number of Workers on Main Shift unusually low or high
  • Financial Office: Number of Computers unusually low or high
  • Hotel: Number of Rooms unusually low or high per square foot
  • Medical Office: Weekly Operating Hours unusually low or high
  • Medical Office: Number of Workers on Main Shift unusually low or high
  • Multifamily Housing: Total Number of Residential Living Units unusually low or high per square foot
  • Multifamily Housing: Number of Units in Low-rise, Mid-rise, or High-rise setting (units in multiple settings is unusual and a common error)
  • Multifamily Housing: Number of Bedrooms unusually low or high per square foot

Portfolio Manager alerts that require additional review

  • Data Center No IT Meter
  • Gross Floor Area is 0 ft2
  • Individual monthly meter > 65 days
  • Meter has overlaps
  • Meter has gaps
  • Meter has less than 12 months of data
  • No meter associated with property
  • Property has no uses
  • Whole building data: “Metered Areas (Energy)” field should be “Whole Building”

— 

Below are the number of exemptions by type that were granted in 2019.

Exemption

Total Approved

A building for which the Owner can demonstrate that its energy performance is a confidential business practice that includes trade secrets, privileged, or confidential commercial information. In order to qualify for this exemption, the Owner shall specifically identify the information it believes is confidential and provide a written statement below describing the manner in which public disclosure would cause substantial harm to the Owner’s competitive position. Inefficient energy usage alone will not be considered confidential commercial information.

3

A demolition permit has been issued for the entire building, and demolition work has commenced on or before the date the benchmarking report is due.

14

The building owner is unable to obtain whole-building data because there are fewer than four tenants, or one tenant who uses more than 50 (fifty) percent of the energy usage, so Xcel Energy will not aggregate whole-building energy data AND the building owner has requested consent to obtain data from tenants and they have refused that request.

43

The building had an average physical occupancy of less than 60 (sixty) percent throughout the calendar year for which benchmarking is required.

72

The building is presently experiencing qualifying financial distress, as defined by any of the following: (1) the building is the subject of a qualified tax lien sale or public auction due to property tax arrearages; (2) the building is controlled by a court-appointed receiver; or (3) the building has been acquired by a deed in lieu of foreclosure.

1

The building is used primarily for manufacturing or agricultural processes. This exclusion applies only if the manufacturing or agricultural process uses significant energy. To qualify for this exemption, please explain below what sort of industrial or agricultural process is happening in the building and state if that process uses electricity or natural gas.

109

The building was not occupied, due to renovation, for all twelve (12) months of the calendar year for which benchmarking is required.

14

The building was not occupied and did not have a certificate of occupancy or temporary certificate of occupancy for all twelve (12) months of the calendar year for which benchmarking is required.

89

 

Benchmarking Status of all Commercial and Multifamily Square Footage in Denver

When looking at all commercial and multifamily square footage in Denver, only 76% is covered by the Energize Denver Benchmarking ordinance. Buildings under 25,000 square feet account for the remaining 24% and are not covered by the ordinance.

 

Benchmarking Status of all Commercial and Multifamily Square Footage in Denver pie chart

The below graphs illustrate the performance of benchmarked buildings and reference data from 2019’s reporting cycle.

Distribution of ENERGY STAR® Scores by Total Building Count

 

Distribution of Weather Normalized Site Energy Use Intensity (EUI) by Total Building Count

Distribution of Weather Normalized Site Energy Use Intensity (EUI) by Total Building Count

Median ENERGY STAR Scores by Property Type Over Time (only includes buildings with three years of benchmarking data)

 

Median ENERGY STAR Scores by Property Type Over TimeAverage ENERGY STAR® Score by Construction Year

 

Resources

By June 1st every year, all buildings at or over 25,000 square feet in size are required to report their energy performance for the previous calendar year. All compliance instructions and links for 2020 will be available here on February 15th, 2021.

Benchmarking How-To Video Series:

Please follow this link to reach the webpage with all related material, or see below for specific topics and their corresponding links.

Video Series Topics:

(1) How to Create and Account in Energy Star Portfolio Manager

(2) How to Add a Property in Energy Star Portfolio Manager

(3A) How to Create Energy Meters and Manually Add Data

(3B) How to Create Energy Meters and Set Up Xcel’s Auto Upload Tool

(4) How to Find and Add Your Denver Building ID

(5) How to Check for and Correct Data Errors in Energy Star Portfolio Manager

(6) How to Submit your Report to the City

(7) How to File an Exemption

 

Help Center:

Call 844-536-4528 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., or email EnergizeDenver@denvergov.org for answers to questions related to benchmarking. We have approximately a 48-hour response time to voicemails and emails. Alternately, you can also schedule an appointment with the help center.

Please complete our help center customer satisfaction survey.

 

Trainings & Benchmarking Help Sessions: 

The  Office of Climate Action, Sustainability, and Resiliency will offer two ordinance compliance training sessions,which will provide one-on-one assistance before the June 1st deadline. Please bring a laptop and have access to your building information and energy bills.

CANCELLED Wednesday, April 8th, 9:30am – 1:30pm, Webb Building 201 W. Colfax Ave., Room 4.H.2,

Thursday, May 7th, 9:30am – 1:30pm, Virtual Meeting, RSVP Here.

Download training session presentations slides

 

Helpful Resources:

Complete the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager 101 and 201 trainings

  • In the right-hand corner select “View Event Recordings”
  • Search the “Topic” column for the most up-to-date Portfolio Manager 101 and 201 Trainings
  • Playback or download the recordings. Note that these recordings utilize WebEx, make sure WebEx is downloaded.

For questions about how to benchmark your building, go to the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager Help Desk to see responses to frequently asked questions or to ask a new question.

Pro-bono benchmarking support is available for buildings in financial distress, affordable and low-income housing or nonprofits. Email EnergizeDenver@denvergov.org for more information.

Directory of Benchmarking Service Providers

The Directory of Benchmarking Service Providers is a list of individuals that provide benchmarking services. To be added to this list service, providers must do the following:

  1. Take Portfolio Manager 101 and 201 trainings
  2. Complete the proficiency quiz
  3. Attend a compliance training session and ask to be listed as a resource. Or, watch the compliance training video series that will be posted here in Spring of 2019. Or, email the help center with the building IDs of five properties you benchmarked in previous years so Energize Denver staff can review the quality of your work.

Please note, the City may remove a service provider from the list if we receive submissions with errors from that provider.

These resources may also be helpful for building owners or managers benchmarking a building themselves, but they are not required of building owner or managers:

  • Provide the City with the building owner or manager’s contact information (for a building to be brought into compliance) so that we are able to send scorecards directly to the owner or manager and reach out regarding any issues with compliance. Please call or email the help center to supply this information at 844-536-4528, or email EnergizeDenver@denvergov.org
  • Complete the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager 101 and 201 trainings
    • In the right-hand corner select “View Event Recordings”
    • Search the “Topic” column for the most up-to-date Portfolio Manager 101 and 201 Trainings
    • Playback or download the recordings. Note that these recordings utilize WebEx, make sure WebEx is downloaded.
  • Pass the Benchmarking Service Provider Quiz.
    • This online quiz will take approximately 30 minutes to complete and must be completed in one sitting. The quiz is based on the Energize Denver website and the Portfolio Manager 101 & 201 Training recordings.
    • Service providers must receive 18/18 on the quiz, but it may be taken as many times as needed. Only upon successful completion of the quiz will the Help Desk assist the service provider with benchmarking.

History of ordinance development:

The Denver benchmarking ordinance was the result of a 12-month stakeholder engagement process from December 2015 – December 2016. For the complete task force recommendations, technical clarifications and a summary of the public input process see the following: 

Benchmarking Program

Prior to passing the benchmarking ordinance, the Department of Public Health and Environment ran a voluntary benchmarking program for two and a half years that recognized buildings for measuring their energy performance. The program enrolled 153 buildings representing just over 19 million square feet. Many case studies were developed as part of this program and can be found in the Resource Center.

The ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager Score

Using the 1–100 ENERGY STAR score, you can understand how your building’s energy consumption measures up against similar buildings nationwide. The ENERGY STAR score allows anyone to quickly understand how a building is performing. A score of 50 represents median energy performance, while a score of 75 or better indicates your building is a top performer — and may be eligible for ENERGY STAR certification.

It’s a simple but powerful tool. Based on actual, measured data, the ENERGY STAR score assesses how your building is performing as a whole: its assets, its operations and how the people inside use it. Are you open 24 hours? Do you have a high density of workers? The ENERGY STAR score is tailored to account for how your building works in the real world. Learn more.

OCASR publishes basic building information and energy performance metrics annually for all covered buildings reporting that year, including the following fields:

  • Property name
  • Address
  • Property type
  • Gross Floor Area
  • Year Built
  • ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager score
  • Weather normalized site EUI
  • Total greenhouse gas emissions
  • ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager certification years
  • Any notes the Owner or property manager has submitted explaining building energy performance information.

Other fields may be included that are relevant for a specific building type. A full list of the fields that will be published can be found here. Past scores are shown to illustrate energy performance improvements.

OCASR only intends to make the data publicly available through a database searchable by address and a clickable map that will not have a download option. OCASR continually monitors the effectiveness of the transparency policy and impacts on the real estate sector to assess how data is provided.

Office of Climate Action, Sustainability, and Resiliency (OCASR) will review the data submitted for data quality problems, including the following:

  • ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager energy alerts
  • ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager property use detail alerts
  • EUI outside a normal range of less than 10 or more than 500
  • Abnormal ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager scores of less than 5 or greater than 95
  • Gross Floor Area significantly different from that in the tax assessor’s records
  • Number of workers, operating hours, or other building use details for a specific property type that are well outside of the normal range

OCASR will communicate with owners to identify and assist in resolving any errors such as those listed above. 

OCASR may assess a maximum civil penalty as is permitted under D.R.MC. § 4-9. Buildings in non-compliance after June 1st are assessed a penalty of $2,000.  

While OCASR has discretion to issue penalties, the goal is to assist owners of covered buildings with successfully benchmarking their energy performance. OCASR takes the following approach to ensure good data quality:

  • Offer in-person help sessions/trainings on how to benchmark
    • Wednesday, April 8th, 9:30am – 1:30pm, Webb Building 201 W. Colfax Ave., Room 4.H.2, RSVP Here.
    • Thursday, May 7th, 9:30am – 1:30pm, Webb Building 201 W. Colfax Ave., Room 4.G.4, RSVP Here.
  • Provide help center support
  • Service providers are required to take Portfolio Manager 101 and 201 trainings, complete a proficiency quiz, and provide a building owner’s name and contact information when submitting a report.
  • Building owners with continuing data accuracy issues, such as the quality problems listed above, are required to have a Professional Engineer (PE) sign off on their scores.
  • Provide ongoing outreach and education around Energy Efficiency and benchmarking

How should I benchmark multiple buildings that share a meter?

Owners of multiple buildings that share one energy meter for one or more of their energy sources may comply with the ordinance by benchmarking those buildings together as a single building. We allow those buildings to be benchmarked as a single building if the owner prefers so that the user can take advantage of Xcel Energy’s offer to automatically upload monthly energy bill data to Portfolio Manager, and so the owner can benchmark their buildings at the level that makes sense for their management strategy. 

There may be compelling reasons to benchmark these shared-meter buildings separately, though, and we encourage owners to explore their options. For instance, if buildings have separate electric meters but a shared gas meter, an owner might find it valuable to benchmark the buildings separately since there might be a difference in the scores based on electric usage alone – such as if one building has undergone or might undergo a lighting upgrade when the other hasn’t. Or, an owner may want to fully understand the energy performance of each building and so may manually split the natural gas monthly data by square footage of the buildings. Where multiple buildings share both electric and gas meters, we encourage owners to look into sub-metering. In addition to helping an owner better understand energy usage, sub-metering may enable the building to be eligible for ENERGY STAR certification if the building has an ENERGY STAR score of 75 or higher. Only hotels, hospitals, K-12 schools, multifamily housing and senior care communities are eligible for certification as a campus today. Find for details on options for benchmarking multiple buildings as a campus.

If you are benchmarking multiple buildings together because they share a meter, please email energizedenver@denvergov.org so we can update our covered buildings list accordingly.

 

How can I get whole-building data if energy meters are owned by tenants?

The owner of the building needs to benchmark and report for the whole building. For buildings with multiple Xcel Energy account holders, Xcel Energy will provide aggregated whole-building monthly energy data to the building owner as long as there are four or more Xcel accounts in the building, and no one account uses more than 50 percent of the energy. Refer to Xcel Energy's Energy Benchmarking User Guide for more information. If your building has fewer than four accounts, or one account that uses more than 50 percent of the energy, then you must request customer consent to obtain the data. You can have monthly energy data automatically uploaded to your account from Xcel Energy (recommended). Alternately, you can manually enter monthly energy meter data into your account. 

 

How do you define buildings used primarily for manufacturing or agricultural purposes?

A building is used primarily for manufacturing or agricultural purposes if the building is used for the  growing, or assembling of goods and a significant portion of energy consumed in the building is consumed in support of those processes, i.e. is process load.

Process load is energy consumed for processes other than conditioning spaces and maintaining comfort and amenities for the occupants. It refers to energy used in the actual manufacturing, production, or processing of a good, commodity or other material. For example, a bottling plant or a marijuana grow house would each consume significant electricity for the manufacturing and growing processes respectively, and therefore would fall under the ‘industrial or agricultural’ definition. 

If you believe your building qualifies for an exemption based on the definition above, please describe your process load in your exemption application such that we can understand that it is significant. 

Distribution centers, warehouses and refrigerated warehouses are all benchmarkable space types and do not qualify for the manufacturing exemption. The EPA analysis showed that their Portfolio Manager model performs a fair comparison for warehouses, unrefrigerated warehouses and distribution centers.

 

How can I access meter data if I am not the building owner?  What are the data privacy rules to access data?

First, Xcel Energy needs to verify that you have a relationship with the building owner. If you are not the building owner, Xcel will need to get you authorized on the building owner’s Xcel Energy account at the property. This can be done by completing a consent form with the building owner as the customer of record. Alternatively, the building owner can contact Xcel Energy at 1-800-481-4700 and request to add you as an authorized contact.

Consent forms and instructions.

Please reach out to the team at datarequest@xcelenergy.com for help with your consent form.

 

How can I access whole-building data for my condominiums?

Xcel Energy will treat the condominium owner’s association as the property owner in these cases. Please reach out to them at benchmarking@xcelenergy.com if you have any questions.

 

How do I correctly enter the number of units in a low, medium or high rise setting for multifamily properties?

For multifamily properties, you must enter the number of units in low (1-4 floors), medium (5-9 floors), or high (10+ floors) rise settings. Most multifamily properties only have ONE setting. For example, if a building has 11 floors, then all units in that building are in a high rise setting. If a building has eight floors, all units in that building are in a medium rise setting. The only time a building have should units in more than one setting is if there are two parts of the same building that are very different heights – for example one section is a high -rise tower and the other section only has three floors. 

 

How should I benchmark my strip mall?

Strip malls are benchmarkable spaces and should generally be benchmarked as one building. The building owner can receive aggregated whole-building electricity and natural gas usage information from Xcel Energy, so they do not need to collect energy usage information from individual tenants.

If one strip mall falls on multiple Denver parcels, as defined by the tax assessor, then each parcel should be benchmarked as a separate building.  If, on a single parcel, a driveway divides the strip mall into two distinct buildings then each of those buildings should be benchmarked separately.  Individual retail stores within a strip mall may be benchmarked and reported to the City as a separate building if it is a space type that qualifies for an ENERGY STAR score. See the following link to learn what kinds of retail properties can receive an ENERGY STAR score.

If an individual retail store is going to be benchmarked and reported to the City as a separate building, then the rest of the strip mall should be benchmarked separately. For example, if a grocery store located in a strip mall is going to send a benchmarking report to the City, then it should notify the owner of the strip mall so that the owner knows to benchmark the rest of the strip mall as one building, but to remove the square footage and energy usage of the grocery store from their report. 

Each building should report using their own Denver Building ID. If only one Denver Building ID was assigned to a property that will now be benchmarked as two separate buildings, then the building owner should request an additional Denver Building ID from the City by calling the help center at 844-536-4528.

 

What energy units do electric and gas meters need to be set to?

Units for electricity are kWh and units for gas are Therms for Xcel Energy gas customers.

 

What if I buy my gas from gas transportation providers, instead of Xcel Energy?

If you receive your natural gas from a third-party provider, Xcel Energy is not currently able to transfer this data to Portfolio Manager for you. Please work directly with your third-party provider in order to access this information. The units used on your natural gas bill may be something other than Therms. Please make sure the units on your bills match the units you enter into Portfolio Manager. Some transport gas suppliers show natural gas units as MMbtu. In this case, Mbtu should be selected in Portfolio Manager because Mbtu and MMbtu mean the same thing in this case.

 

How should I enter District Steam and Chilled Water?

If you receive district steam and chilled water, Xcel Energy is not currently able to transfer this data to Portfolio Manager for you. District steam and chilled water customers should configure their meters in Portfolio Manager as follows. 

District Service

Meter Type

Units

Steam

District Steam

kLbs. (thousand pounds)

Chilled Water

District Chilled Water from an electric-driven chiller

ton hours

Note! Steam is billed by Xcel in Mlbs, this is the English system in which Mlbs means thousand, which is kLbs in the metric system used by Portfolio Manager. The Mlbs option in Portfolio manager is metric and means million pounds - so do not select Mlbs in Portfolio Manager.

 

How should I enter onsite solar or wind generation?

For customers with a solar photovoltaic (PV) system or wind turbine, Xcel Energy currently is not able to transfer the electricity generation data to Portfolio Manager for you. Please refer to your Xcel Energy billing statements to access this information. Note that Xcel Energy will transfer the gross electricity provided to the site from the grid under the Electric Grid Meter in Portfolio Manager. You will need to create an additional Electric Solar Meter or Electric Wind Meter for the onsite generation system and enter the production data for that system with that meter. Find more information.

 

What if I make an error and need to resubmit my building information?

If your building is already in compliance and you realize you made an error in your submission and need to resubmit information, please call the help center first. We must prepare our system to receive your new data, otherwise it will not register.

 

Make A Commitment To Action

Is your organization a sustainability leader or does it want to be? Do you want to help make Denver an even more sustainable place to live, work, and play in?

Show it by making a commitment to sustainable action on behalf of your organization today.