Chicago Benchmarking Summary
Oct 1, 2013

The City of Chicago has recently ordained that commercial, residential, and municipal buildings, 50,000 square feet or greater in size, must participate in benchmarking their buildings’ energy use. Benchmarking allows buildings to track and quantify their energy use over a period of time. This ordinance, designed to help the City collect information about energy use within the City, does not require buildings to make energy efficiency improvements. It is the City’s hope that benchmarking will spur investment in energy efficiency projects that will save buildings money, create local jobs and reduce carbon emissions.

AUS - Chicago Benchmarking Summary

How Benchmarking Works

Buildings required to participate in benchmarking will input their energy consumption data each year into the US Environmental Protection Agencies Energy Star Portfolio Manager.

Energy consumption data will be available to buildings directly from the utilities. ComEd’s Energy Usage Data System (EUDs) is already available to buildings to begin accessing aggregated whole building electricity data, as required by the ordinance. People’s Gas is currently working on implementing a similar system for gas usage, including for those buildings that receive natural gas through multiple meters. People’s data system is expected to be available before residential buildings are required to comply with the ordinance.

Each year the City will publish an annual report on the energy efficiency of buildings. Eventually the City will be allowed to publicly disclose individual building performances, but no building will ever have its first year of data publicly disclosed. Furthermore, buildings that utilize 10% or more of their space for data centers, television studios, or trading floors will not have their individually-attributable data made public until the Portfolio Manager can adjust for these facilities’ unique situations.

Every three years, each building will be required to have their energy data verified by the City through a licensed architect, engineer or other professionally certified class recognized by the City. Buildings may utilize internal verification parties or contract externally for them.

Failure to Comply

Not providing the required energy use information to the City in a timely manner could lead to a fine of $100.00 for the first violation, and an additional fine of $25.00 for each day that the building remains in violation.

Benchmarking Timeline

Reporting of benchmark data will begin at various times, depending on the type and size of the building:

Building Type Building Size (Sq. Ft.) Date of First Report
Commercial 250,000 and Greater 2013 usage required no later than
June 1st, 2014
Commercial 50,000 to 249,999 2014 usage required no later than
June 1st, 2015
Residential 250,000 and Greater 2014 usage required no later than
June 1st, 2015
Residential 50,000 to 249,999 2015 usage required no later than
June 1st, 2016

Any building that commits 10% or more of its space to residential occupancy is considered a residential building. After the first reporting year, buildings will be required to report their data no later than June 1st of each year.

Additionally some buildings may be deemed exempt from complying with this ordinance if the building is experiencing any of the following:

  • financial distress in which the building: (1) is being subjected to a qualified tax lien sale or public auction due to property tax arrearages; (2) is controlled by a court appointed receiver; or (3) was acquired by deed in lieu of foreclosure.
  • The average physical occupancy is less than 50% throughout the calendar year in which benchmarking is required.
  • New construction, in which the building’s certificate of occupancy is issued during the calendar year for which benchmarking is mandated.

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