Energy & Water Benchmarking Ordinance
Download a copy of the Compliance Quick Guide for step-by-step guidance on how to bring your building(s) into compliance with the Benchmarking Ordinance in 2021.
The City of Columbus' Energy & Water Benchmarking and Transparency Ordinance (Columbus City Code Title 41 - Building Code Chapter 4117) requires commercial and multi-family building owners and managers of buildings 50,000 square feet and larger to track (or “benchmark”) their electricity, gas, and water use. This data is reported annually to the city through the U.S. EPA's ENERGY STAR(R) Portfolio Manager(R) tool. *Please note that reporting of water data is voluntary in 2021 and will be required starting in 2022.
Benchmarking is an easy and effective way to measure and manage a building's energy and water usage. The Energy and Water Benchmarking and Transparency Ordinance is designed to guide Columbus building owners and managers in starting this process. Compliance with this ordinance will help to reach Mayor Ginther's ambitious pledge to make Columbus a carbon neutral community by 2050. Learn more about Columbus' Climate Action Plan.
The City of Columbus is committed to creating an equitable and climate-ready future. Additional resources are available to support non-profit, faith-based, and affordable housing organizations, as well as building owners in historically disenfranchised neighborhoods. Please reach out directly to the Benchmarking Help Desk to learn more.
For 2021, the inaugural year of the Benchmarking Ordinance, only buildings 100,000 square feet and larger will be required to submit data. In 2022 the threshold to report will drop to include buildings 50,000 square feet and larger.
Below are simplified instructions to bring your building(s) into compliance with the Benchmarking Ordinance for 2021. For a step-by-step guide, download the Compliance Quick Guide.
If your building completed Phase 1 earlier this year, jump to step 3. If not, begin with step 1.
Step 1: Determine Eligibility and Note CBUSID
1. Verify that your building is required to comply with the Benchmarking Ordinance in 2021 by searching the Building ID Lookup Tool with your buildings address. Note that only buildings 100,000 square feet and larger are required to comply in 2021.
2. Make a note of the CBUSID associated with your building as this is required to submit a Benchmarking Report.
3. Share contact information by designating an in-house staff member or 3rd party provider to serve as the point of contact for updates and notifications related to the Benchmarking Ordinance using the Building Contact Form.
Step 2: Set up ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager Profile
1. If your building does not already have an ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager profile, create a new account and building profile directly on the Portfolio Manager website.
2. Collect the basic building information required to benchmark using the Data Collection Worksheet.
3. In your Portfolio Manager account, create a new property for your building, enter the operating/use characteristics, and add the CBUSID under 'Unique Identifiers' on the Details tab.
Step 3: Add Whole-Building Energy Consumption Data
1. For sole owners/occupiers of a building, manually enter energy consumption data from your utility bills into Portfolio Manager for calendar year 2020. See this FAQ for additional details on adding data to Portfolio Manager.
2. For multifamily and multi-tenant building owners, request whole-building aggregated consumption data from the utility companies. AEP Ohio, Columbia Gas, and Columbus Public Utilities have tools to provide building owners with whole-building, aggregated annual data to use for benchmarking. This will simplify and streamline the benchmarking process for building owners and protect individual tenant data anonymity.
For buildings with AEP Ohio and Columbia Gas utility services, we recommend requesting 2020 whole-building data from AEP Ohio and submitting an Extension Request Form until Columbia Gas data is available. Additional details are outlined below:
2a AEP Ohio customers: As of November 2021, AEP Ohio customers may request aggregated whole-building data for calendar year 2020 for the purpose of complying with the Benchmarking Ordinance. Please download the AEP Ohio Benchmarking Data Template and complete the following steps: (1) review the 'Instructions' tab and fill out the 'Required Data' tab. (2) email the completed excel file to [email protected]. All account/ meter/ premise information provided will be aggregated into property level kilowatt-hour usage amount per month. (3) This information will be emailed to you when the request is completed.
2b Columbia Gas customers: As of November 2021, Columbia Gas is finalizing its whole-building aggregated consumption data access tool. In the meantime, submit an Extension Request Form by December 15, 2021 to extend 2021 compliance eligibility through June 1, 2022.
Step 4: Submit Benchmarking Report (deadline extended to December 15 for 2021 compliance)
Once whole-building energy for calendar year 2020 is entered in Portfolio Manager, follow the steps below to submit your 2021 Benchmarking Report directly to the City of Columbus via the Benchmarking Data Submission link by December 15, 2021.
1. Check for possible errors using the Data Quality Checker on the 'Summary' tab in Portfolio Manager.
2. Follow the Benchmarking Data Submission Link and generate a preview of your building(s)' report.
3. Submit your Benchmarking Report to the City using the Benchmarking Data Submission link.
After your Benchmarking Report is submitted:
1. Within 24 hours of submitting a Benchmarking Report, the email associated with the Portfolio Manager account that submitted the Benchmarking Report will receive an automated email from [email protected]
2. Columbus' system that receives Benchmarking Reports will conduct a series of data quality checks -- if a submittal trips one of our data quality flags, you'll receive an email with instructions on next steps to correct possible errors. If your submittal does not have data quality flags, you'll receive an email indicating that your building is In Compliance for the 2021 reporting year.
Book One-on-One Benchmarking Assistance
In order to assist building owners in their benchmarking journeys, the City of Columbus offers technical support and compliance assistance through the Benchmarking Help Desk.
Schedule a one-on-one appointment with the Help Desk.
Stay Up to Date with the Latest Resources
Receive the latest Benchmarking resources, tools, and news by updating or uploading your contact information in the Building Contact Form. It's recommended that an email contact is included in your contact information.
The City of Columbus has created a variety of targeted technical resources to assist the Columbus Building Owner Community in achieving compliance with the Benchmarking Ordinance.
• Benchmarking Compliance Quick Guide
• Frequently Asked Questions
• Benchmarking and Transparency 101
ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager Tools & Training
ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager is an interactive resource management tool that enables you to benchmark the energy use of any type of building, all in a secure online environment. ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager is the most widely used tool to benchmark and analyze whole-building data, making it the industry-leading benchmarking tool.
The EPA has many free and easy-to-use guides for getting started with Portfolio Manager.
• If you have two minutes, get started with the Benchmarking Starter Kit.
• If you have fifteen minutes, review the Basics of Building Benchmarking for Ordinance Compliance Guide.
• Want to be an expert in Benchmarking Compliance? Watch the Basics of Benchmarking Ordinance Compliance webinar series!
• Go deeper with ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager and access the ENERGY STAR Webinar Library.
Ordinance Development Process
Learn more about how the Energy & Water Benchmarking & Transparency Ordinance was developed and designed by reviewing the Ordinance Development Process.