Key to Benchmarking
Jul 9, 2015

If you own or manage a residential building in Chicago, August 1, 2015 is an important date to remember. It marks the deadline for all residential buildings over 250,000 square feet to submit a verified benchmarking report per the City of Chicago’s Benchmarking Ordinance.

To comply, buildings are required to enter their pertinent building data into the Energy Star Benchmarking Portfolio Manager, entering themselves or via their benchmarking service provider.

Total Square Footage

Your entire benchmarking score hinges on the accuracy of your building’s total square footage; the single, most important piece of information required by the Portfolio Manager. The final score is calculated by comparing all the inputted data factors against the total square footage of your building. Thus, this one important detail becomes the center point for all information. If the square footage is inaccurate, the whole benchmarking score is skewed, which ultimately defeats the entire purpose of your benchmarking report.

Calculating Your Square Footage

Many properties have a hard time getting their exact square footage. To help you get the most accurate benchmarking score possible, AUS uses the City’s definition of square footage per below:

Total square footage of the building, measured from the principal exterior surfaces and not including any exterior spaces such as balconies, exterior loading docks, open parking lots, or driveways. Gross square footage is not the same as rentable or leasable area, but rather includes all areas inside the building, such as: occupied tenant areas, common areas, meeting areas, break rooms, restrooms, elevator shafts, mechanical equipment areas, and storage rooms. Gross floor area should not include interstitial plenum space between floors, which may house pipes and ventilation. In the case where there is an atrium, gross square footage is counted as the base level only. If the building includes parking areas with energy consumption their area must be included in the total gross floor area.

We recommend that you also reference architectural drawings or other building documents to locate your actual square footage. Such building documents may not show the total square footage calculated, but they usually have important building data such as building height, width, length, etc. which will help in your calculations. Use the following formula: length x width x number of floors in the building (provided that all floors are the same size).

You might also look at recent assessments and appraisals to retrieve this information. Though you may need to do some digging and asking around – reporting 240,000 square feet versus 320,000 square feet can mean the difference between a score of a 9 and a 47, AND a lot of hassle down the road.

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