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.

Download this Benchmarking and Transparency 101 primer to learn more. 

Why it’s important Columbus is committed to reducing community-wide greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption by 20 percent by 2020. Ensuring that buildings in Columbus – which account for 58% of community-wide greenhouse gas emissions – are as energy and water efficient as possible is a critical step in our efforts ensure that Columbus remains an 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. The ordinance will significantly 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 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 fall of 2020.

To receive updates when compliance materials are posted, sign up for the benchmarking mailing list.

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.

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 AEP Ohio and Columbia Gas.

Questions? We can help! Want to learn more about benchmarking or have a specific question? We want to hear from you! Contact us at