[ Blog/News ]
Seattle Energy Benchmarking & Reporting Program
Ensuring Your Condo’s Compliance
Condominium owner or community associations with properties of 5+ units in Seattle have at least until October 1, 2012* to comply with the energy benchmarking and reporting program. The program requires associations (or their professional managers) to track their building’s energy use, called “benchmarking” with EPA’s Portfolio Manager, a free online tool, and annually report the energy performance to the City. Upon request, an energy performance report must be supplied to potential residents, buyers, lenders or other qualified parties.
*In response to public input that more assistance and time is needed to comply, the City is evaluating the program and considering staggered reporting deadlines based on building size. More information will be posted on the website as soon as it is available.
How To Comply
Associations or their managers are encouraged to start benchmarking before the October 2012 deadline by following these four steps:
- Gather building information
- Create a building profile in Portfolio Manager
- Set up automated benchmarking for utilities serving the building
- Authorize annual reporting to the City of Seattle
To get started, visit the website to review the four steps above and download the How to Guide. Free workshops and drop-in help is available to assist those new to energy benchmarking (see below). A list of local businesses that provide benchmarking services is available on the Northwest Energy Efficiency Council website at www.neec.net/seattle-benchmarking-providers.
Free Energy Benchmarking Resources
Visit the links for details and registration. All are held at University of Washington in Seattle.
- June 13, 8am – 12pm
- July 18, 8am – 12pm
- August 22, 12:30 – 4:30pm
- September 6, 8am – 12pm
- Wednesdays at the Seattle Municipal Tower, 700 5th Avenue, 18th floor, 11am to 1pm
- (206) 727-8484 (8am – 4:30pm M-F) or EnergyBenchmarking@seattle.gov
More About The City Of Seattle Ordinance
Although condos are individually owned, they are still subject to the ordinance so that the building’s total energy use information is readily available to residents and potential buyers in a consistent format. Tracking energy use overtime also provides baseline information to help owner associations evaluate potential energy efficiency investments.
While many owners consider their energy bills a fixed cost, making energy use visible often uncovers ways to reduce utility costs. A 2009 study by Ecotope found that in local multifamily properties common area bills make up 40-60% of the total energy use of a building. For multifamily properties, quick fixes are often in hallways, shared amenities such as pools and spas, parking lots, and other “common” spaces. Making simple changes saves on energy costs, provides greater comfort, and can generate faster sales.
Seattle City Light and Puget Sound Energy offer “automated benchmarking” to directly feed energy usage data into the association’s Portfolio Manager account, eliminating the need to manually input data from bills. These services preserve individual owner’s privacy by summarizing the entire building’s energy use—managers do not need to collect energy bills or gain permission from individual owners. The association—and the City—will be able to see the total energy use, aggregated across all meters serving a building, but individual meter readings will not be disclosed.
Energy benchmarking is an industry best practice and national trend. Seattle is one of five cities nationwide with reporting requirements, and many other cities and states are considering similar measures. The City of Seattle’s goal is that everyone will benefit when the energy use of all our buildings is more visible. Program outcomes include: lowering energy costs to owners and tenants, creating job opportunities, and reducing greenhouse gas impacts.
Visit www.seattle.gov/EnergyBenchmarking to learn more.
By Nicole Ballinger
Outreach Advisor, Energy Benchmarking & Reporting Program