Energy and Water Benchmarking and Transparency Ordinance


What we’re doing On March 16, 2020, the City of Columbus City Council unanimously voted to adopt the Energy and Water Benchmarking and Transparency Ordinance. The ordinance requires buildings 50,000 square feet and over to track their whole-building energy and water use with the U.S. EPA's ENERGY STAR(R)Portfolio Manager(R) tool and share this data with the City beginning in 2021. The City will publish a subset of summary data to support market transparency and recognize high-performing buildings across Columbus beginning in 2022. 

Buildings 100,000 square feet and above will be required to report data from January 1, 2020 - December 31, 2020 by June 1, 2021

Buildings 50,000 square feet and above will be required to report data from January 1, 2021 - December 31, 2021 by June 1, 2022

Subsequent benchmarking reports will be due by June 1 each year.

The City of Columbus is creating compliance-related materials for implementation of the benchmarking ordinance that will be posted to this website in January-February 2021. 

Download this Benchmarking and Transparency 101 primer to learn more. 

Why it’s important In February 2020, Mayor Ginther announced a bold and ambitious goal for the Columbus community to be carbon neutral by 2050. Ensuring that buildings in Columbus – which account for 55% of community-wide greenhouse gas emissions – are as energy and water efficient as possible is a critical step in our efforts ensure that we meet our climate goals and that Columbus remains a healthy and vibrant community. 

Benchmarking is an easy way for buildings to measure and manage their energy and water use and focuses on creating information that will enable better decision-making around building energy use and the ordinance will help improve the energy efficiency of large buildings across Columbus. 

By providing reliable data to building owners and tenants and consistent information to the market (like a MPG rating for cars), benchmarking and transparency has been shown to reduce building energy use by 2-3% each year. Benchmarking and transparency reduce community-wide emissions from the buildings sector by 3-4% year over year by encouraging building owners to make informed energy investment decisions. 

What comes next Share your contact information
Are you a building owner, building manager, energy consultant, or similar? Submit your information to receive updates on ordinance compliance and serve as the point of contact for your building: Building Contact Form

The City of Columbus is creating compliance-related materials for implementation of the benchmarking ordinance that will be posted to this website in January 2021. 

Benchmarking and Compliance Resources Guides and information on ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager 
The EPA has easy-to-use guides for using the free, online Portfolio Manager tool. 

- Begin with the Portfolio Manager Quick Start Guide
- To learn how to upload meter information from a bill, spreadsheet, or utility company, view " How to get utility data into Portfolio Manager." 
- Browse the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager Help Desk to see frequently asked questions or ask a new question. 
- Learn the benefits of benchmarking and how Portfolio Manager can help you save.
- Download the Portfolio Manager 101 PowerPoint Presentation (with notes includes for each slide) to help from start-to-finish. 

Attend a free virtual training class For more hands-on training, attend one of our upcoming virtual benchmarking and ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager 101 "data jam" training sessions in 2021. Each session will cover the basics of benchmarking for complying with the ordinance and walk-through the benchmarking process. We'll help you benchmarking at least one of your buildings and help answer questions along the way. 
-Dates forthcoming 

View online EPA-provided webinars on benchmarking in Portfolio Manager 
Access all upcoming ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager webinars by clicking here.

Want to learn more? Sign up for our benchmarking mailing list to receive periodic updates on the benchmarking ordinance.

Benchmarking Factsheets:

     - Commercial office buildings 
     - Multifamily housing buildings  
     - Industrial buildings & warehouses

Ready to get started benchmarking? 
Create a free ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager account
Enroll in automated benchmarking offered by the City of Columbus Department of Public Utilities. 

Have questions? We want to hear from you! 
Email us at [email protected] or schedule a meeting with our Benchmarking Help Desk directly here

Ordinance development process The City convened an advisory group to meet monthly from September 2019 through January 2020 to collect stakeholder feedback and develop the benchmarking and transparency ordinance. The meeting schedule and related materials can be viewed below. 

Advisory Group Meeting 1: Setting the Context, September 5, 2019    
     - Agenda 
     - Slide Deck     
 Advisory Group Meeting 2: Discussing Policy Design I, October 10, 2019      
     - Agenda 
     - Slide Deck     
 Advisory Group Meeting 3: Discussing Policy Design II, November 12, 2019      
     - Agenda 
     - Slide Deck     
 Advisory Group Meeting 4: Policy Design & Direction, December 10, 2019      
     - Agenda 
     - Slide Deck  
 Advisory Group Meeting 5: Policy Implementation, January 14, 2020    
     - Agenda 
     - Slide Deck  

To learn more about the ordinance development process, download the Ordinance Development Process One-Pager. Upon completion of five advisory group meetings, the City of Columbus Energy and Water Benchmarking Ordinance draft was published for open comment from January 2 through January 31, 2020. The City reviewed and incorporated feedback and submitted a final draft of the ordinance to Columbus City Council. Columbus City Council introduced the ordinance at the March 2, 2020 City Council meeting and held a Public Hearing for the benchmarking ordinance on March 12, 2020. On March 16, 2020, the ordinance was unanimously adopted by City Council.