Benchmarking Overview

San Francisco Environment Code Chapter 20 requires that each whole non-residential building larger than 10,000 square feet must be benchmarked using Energy Star Portfolio Manager. Portfolio Manager is an online tool provided at no cost to the user by the US Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy. The benchmarking requirement is being phased in over three years.

Building owners or their representatives must annually electronically share a brief report of key benchmarking results with the Department of Environment, and tenants. This report is an “Annual Energy Benchmark Summary”, and is based on data from the prior calendar year. For example, a 2011 report will be based on energy used from January 2010 to December 2010.

The Annual Energy Benchmark Summary report will include:

  • Contact information and square footage
  • Energy Use Intensity (how much energy the building used per square foot for the year)
  • 1-100 Performance Rating provided by Portfolio Manager, where applicable
  • Greenhouse gas emissions from energy usage 
  • The Annual Energy Benchmark Summary does not include commodity energy use (kWh or therms) for the whole building or for any meters.

Benchmarking with Portfolio Manager will also be required under California Public Resources Code 25402.10 (AB 1103.) Where the San Francisco Existing Commercial Buildings Energy Performance ordinance requires annual benchmarking and public disclosure of limited statistics summarizing overall performance, the complimentary state law will require private disclosure of all energy usage information between parties to the sale, lease, or refinance of the entire building. For additional information:

For the first year that an Annual Energy Benchmark Summary report is required from a given building, the Department of Environment must keep the report confidential. In subsequent years of reporting for that same building, the Department of Environment is required to make public the Annual Energy Benchmark Summary.

Exemptions to Benchmarking Requirements

An Annual Energy Benchmark Summary is not required for:

  • New Buildings: (The Certificate of Occupancy from the Department of Building Inspection is dated less than two years prior to the Annual Energy Benchmark Summary due date.)
  • Unoccupied Buildings: (The building had less than one full-time equivalent occupant for the previous calendar year.)

In all other cases, the Annual Energy Benchmark Summary is required. To obtain an exemption to benchmarking requirements, please write to:  In the message, include:

  • Contact information for the owner, and the owner’s agent if applicable.
  • Assessor Parcel Number (block and lot)
  • Gross square footage of the building(s)
  • Reason for exemption:
    • Date and Permit Number for Certificate of Occupancy, or a copy.
    • Signed statement that the building was unoccupied for the 12 months of the prior calendar year.