San Francisco’s New Annual Energy Benchmark Summary Report for existing commercial buildings – how does it work?

On February 1, 2011 the Board of Supervisors of San Francisco passed an ordinance amending the San Francisco Environment Code to adopt the San Francisco Existing Commercial Buildings Energy Performance Ordinance, requiring owners of non-residential buildings to conduct Energy Efficiency Audits of their properties and file Annual Energy Benchmark Summaries for their buildings, and making environmental findings.

What exactly does that mean to you as a building owner?

This ordinance requires non-residential building owners to file annual energy benchmark summaries for their buildings and an ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-conditioning Engineers) compliant commercial building energy audit every 5 years.

Annual Energy Benchmark Summary (AEBS)

The owner of every non-residential building greater than 10,000 sq ft has to file an AEBS using the Energy Star® Portfolio manager. Here is the schedule for compliance:

Gross Area Timeline
Initial report Annually
≥ 10,000 – 24,999 sq ft 4/1/2013 4/1/….
≥ 24,999 – 49,999 sq ft 4/1/2012 4/1/….
≥ 50,000 sq ft 10/1/2011 4/1/….

Energy Efficiency audits

Commercial building owners have to conduct a comprehensive energy efficiency audit for every building with a gross area of 10,000 sq ft or more. The audit has to meet or exceed the ASHRAE Procedures for Commercial Building Energy Audits (2004) and is due every five years.

Gross Area ASHRAE Audit Timeline
≥ 10,000 sq ft Level 1 Specific date for each building will be assigned when audit is due.
≥ 50,000 sq ft Level 2

An audit is not necessary if the building was constructed less than five years prior to the date the report is due, if the building was LEED EB O&M certified within five years prior to the date the audit report is due or if the building has received the EPA Energy Star® label for at least three of the five years preceding the filling date of the audit report.

Publication & Penalties

The Department of the Environment will make the following information available to the public:

  • Summary statistics on energy use in non-residential buildings

For each building:

  • Compliance status
  • Minimum ASHRAE audit level
  • Date of the most recent audit
  • Annual benchmark summary

Landlords have to make the AEBS report available to their tenants to engage them in energy-saving. Violations of this ordinance can be punished by administrative fines up to $100 per day for a maximum of 25 days in one twelve-month period.

Next Step for Building owners

The sooner building owner’s start thinking about getting active the better for them:

  • Save money – the whole purpose of this ordinance is to make you aware of some easy steps to save money in your building
  • Audit capacities are limited, so prices might get up

The next step for commercial landlords should be to get in touch with an energy professional who qualifies under this ordinance to set up an initial meeting. Besides experience and price, trust and professionalism should be key decision-making factors, as building owners might want to work together with their energy professional after the initial audit, when retro-commissioning and/or retrofit measures are on the table.

Connecting the Dots

AB1103, Gavin Newsom’s goals as Lieutenant Governor and San Francisco’s new ordinance are all focusing on energy efficiency in commercial buildings to reduce the energy consumption and to create new jobs in the retrofit arena.

Building owners, investors and property managers should be aware of the chance to either lead the caravan or to be left behind. The cost saving opportunities to operate and maintain a building is tremendous, but even more important for income property is the competitiveness factor. When buyers and tenants can easily identify the rotten eggs with the AEBS or AB1103 report building owners will suffer a decrease of their property value and/or lower leases.

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c2e – provides expertise and solutions in the sustainable business world. We are driven by the Green Zeitgeist and offer a bottom-line-focused approach, incorporating state-of –the-art technologies, green management philosophies with the aim to provide positive value in the domain of People, Planet, and Profit.
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