FAQ

Frequently Asked Benchmarking Questions

HOW TO SUBMIT A BENCHMARK

How do I submit a benchmark?
When is my building’s benchmark due?
Can you do it for me?
Can I be granted an extension/exemption?
I’m having issues getting my energy data from tenants.
I’m having Energy Star Portfolio Manager issues.

I'VE SUBMITTED MY BENCHMARK, NOW WHAT?

I submitted my benchmark but haven’t heard back.

HOW TO FIX COMMON BENCHMARK ERRORS

My benchmark was not approved because of temporary values.
My benchmark was not approved because of default values.
My benchmark was not approved because <12 Months of data.
My site EUI/Energy Star Score is outside of typical bounds.

HOW TO SUBMIT A BENCHMARK

How do I submit a benchmark?

Please visit How to Comply with Benchmarking in San Francisco to learn how to properly submit your benchmark.

When is my building’s benchmark due?

Every year on April 1. Please look up your compliance summary here.

Can you do it for me?

No. Your ENERGY STAR account is private and password-protected. SF Environment cannot access your account or remotely insert report templates.

Can I be granted an extension?

No. For benchmarks, there are only three possible situations: each building has either complied, not complied, or qualified for an exemption. We cannot not offer extensions to individual buildings for benchmarking reports. If you’re having trouble, a benchmarking consultant may be able to help.

Can I be granted an exemption?

It depends. If you do qualify for an exemption you will need to scroll to the end of the exemption section and follow the “apply for exemption” instructions. To find out if you may qualify for an exemption, please see the information below.

I am the new owner of my building, am I exempt from submitting a benchmark?

In cases where a building has been sold and it is absolutely not possible to obtain complete energy use data for a year due to the sale of a building, Dept of Environment will accept a statement of inability to comply in lieu of a benchmark report for the year of the transaction, as well as the years prior to the transaction. Apply for an exemption.

There was a tenant turnover in my building last year, am I exempt from submitting a benchmark?

Uncooperative tenants are not cause for exemption from requirements to benchmark. The best practice to engage a tenant is for the owner to notify the tenant in writing that benchmarking is required by law in San Francisco, and present the tenant with a letter detailing the following, along with a copy of each:
  • A copy of the notice from SF Environment
  • Copy of the ordinance (summary or full legalese)Owner/representative name:
  • Reference to the (standard) section of the lease where the tenant agrees to not put the owner in violation of applicable state, local, and federal law
  • Reference to the section of the lease where the tenant consents to pass-through of cost for regulatory compliance, and penalties for failure to comply due to action or inaction of the tenant
  • The PG&E Guide to Releasing your Data for Benchmarking
  • Benchmarking requires energy use information for the entire building. There is not an exemption for non-responsive tenants, and PG&E does not provide whole-building aggregated data. A building owner in San Francisco who has benchmarked in compliance with the city ordinance should be well prepared to comply with California AB 1103, which requires the same data to be assembled in Portfolio Manager prior to the sale, lease, or refinance of any whole commercial building over 10,000 square feet.
However – when a tenant that purchases energy directly from the utility moves out, the owner may have no mechanism whatsoever to obtain energy use data from the utility. Under such circumstances, the owner may apply for a one-year exemption from the benchmarking requirement. Apply for an exemption.

My building is vacant, am I exempt from submitting a benchmark?

If your facility averaged less than 1 person on site during the building’s typical operating hours over the prior calendar year, the ordinance does not apply and benchmarking is not required. Apply for an exemption.

My building has LEED EBOM or ENERGY STAR certification, am I exempt from benchmarking?

No. Buildings that demonstrate excellent energy performance are still required to benchmark annually under San Francisco’s Existing Commercial Buildings Energy Performance Ordinance.

My building is less than 10,000 sqft. Am I exempt from the ordinance?

Yes. If your facility is smaller than 10,000 square feet the ordinance does not apply and benchmarking is not required. Apply for an exemption.

My building has less than 10,000 sqft. of conditioned space, am I exempt from the ordinance?

Yes. If your facility does not have at least 10,000 square feet of conditioned space, the ordinance does not apply and benchmarking is not required. Apply for an exemption.

My building qualifies as new construction, am I exempt from the ordinance?

If your facility averaged less than 1 person on site during the building’s typical operating hours over the prior calendar year, the ordinance does not apply and neither benchmarking nor audits are required. Apply for an exemption.

My building is scheduled, or already is, demolished. Am I exempt from the ordinance?

If your facility has written approval from a city agency to be demolished (or for the site to be developed in a manner that necessitates demolition), neither benchmarking nor audits are required.

If a new commercial building larger than 10,000 square feet is constructed, the Existing Commercial Buildings ordinance requires benchmarking to resume within 24 months of issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy (or equivalent) by the Department of Building Inspection. Apply for an exemption.

My building is a Single Room Occupancy (SRO) facility. Am I exempt from the ordinance?

Yes. If there are residential units on site, the ordinance does not apply and benchmarking is not required. Apply for an exemption.

My building is a residential facility. Am I exempt from the ordinance?

Yes. If there are residential units on site, the ordinance does not apply and benchmarking is not required. Apply for an exemption.

Apply for an Exemption

Please answer the questions below and send your responses to benchmark@sfenvironment.org.
  • Building address:
  • Assessor Parcel Number (APN) If the building sits on more than one parcel, please list each one).
  • Owner/representative address:
  • Owner/representative name:
  • Owner/representative phone number:
  • Owner/representative email:
  • Building square footage<>br>
  • Heated/cooled square footage:
  • Number of residential units in the building:
  • City documentation that the building has been or will be demolished (if applicable)
  • 1-2 sentence statement that outlines why you are applying for a building exemption.

I’m having issues getting my energy data from tenants.

The best practice to engage a tenant is for the owner to notify the tenant in writing that benchmarking is required by law in San Francisco, and present the tenant with a letter detailing the following, along with the following:
  • A copy of the notice from SF Environment
  • Copy of the ordinance (summary or full legalese)
  • Reference to the (standard) section of the lease where the tenant agrees to not put the owner in violation of applicable state, local, and federal law
  • Reference to the section of the lease where the tenant consents to pass-through of cost for regulatory compliance, and penalties for failure to comply due to action or inaction of the tenant
  • The PG&E Guide to Releasing your Data for Benchmarking.
Benchmarking requires energy use information for the entire building. There is not an exemption for non-responsive tenants, and PG&E does not provide whole-building aggregated data.

A building owner in San Francisco who has benchmarked in compliance with the city ordinance should be well prepared to comply with AB 1103, which will require the same data to be assembled in Portfolio Manager prior to the sale, lease, or refinance of any whole commercial building over 5,000 square feet. AB 1103 began implementation January 2014.

I’m having Energy Star Portfolio Manager issues

We have compiled a small list of common issues to help, but for more comprehensive assistance please visit the Energy Star Portfolio Manager FAQ or request assistance from the USEPA.

How do I reset my username/password?

If you’ve misplaced the password for Portfolio Manager, try Password recovery for Energy Star Portfolio Manager

Your organization’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager account is password protected and managed by US EPA. San Francisco Department of Environment does not have access to any user IDs or passwords.

How do I reauthorize my PG&E data to Energy Star Portfolio Manager?

To re-authorize web services for Portfolio Manager, see these detailed instructions.

 

I'VE SUBMITTED A BENCHMARK, NOW WHAT?

I submitted by benchmark but haven't heard back.

Benchmarks are processed in the order they are received. When you submit a benchmark, you receive an email confirmation from Energy Star that the report was sent. When SF Environment reviews your benchmark you will receive a “Confirmation of Energyr Benchmark Summary” email from benchmark@sfenvironment.org.

The compliance status of your building is also a matter of public record and posted on DataSF.org. The compliance map is not a real time record and only reflects the compliance status when SF Environment most recently refreshed the data. The “Confirmation of Energy Benchmark Summary” email sent out after SF Environment reviews a submitted benchmark also includes a compliance summary.

 

HOW TO FIX COMMON BENCHMARK ERRORS

My benchmark was not approved because of temporary values.

Property Use Details are causing a flag on the building. Property Use Details are the descriptors like "Gross Floor Area", # of computers on main shift, etc that are set for each individual area/use that you've described in Portfolio Manager. Among those use details for at least one space, something is indicated as a temporary value, or (more likely) was entered as having a beginning date that was after Jan 1, 2014. (There are beginning & ending dates because the number of employees on a shift and operating hours may change periodically, and even gross floor area changes if there's a major addition or renovation that affects the envelope.)

Please try the following:

In Portfolio Manager, click on the property.
In the grey tabs below the building name & address, click "Details".
Expand each space use until you find the ones where temporary is indicated by check boxes, or where the "Current as of..." field lists a date during 2013, uncheck the check box and resubmit the benchmark.

If there are no temporary values for all spaces in the building, please email benchmark@sfenvironment.org.

My benchmark was not approved because of default values.

The Default Data Flag is a Yes/No flag that indicates whether default values have been applied to the property use details within a specific property use type.

Yes: The property use type that you have entered includes one or more default values for individual details such as hours, workers, or computers.
No: The property use type that you have entered does not use default values for any individual details such as hours, workers, or computers.

Benchmarks are not accepted with default values as it does not provide accurate information for your building. SF Environment will only accept Annual Energy Benchmark Summaries with actual values.

The default value boxes need to be unchecked. These boxes appear throughout the process next to Property Use details (i.e."Weekly Operating Hours," "Number of Computers," "Percent That Can Be Heated," etc.).

Please uncheck the "Use a Default" box and enter actual space use data for your building, and finally resubmit the benchmark.

My benchmark was not approved because <12 Months of data.

Review to make sure there is energy use data for all dates in the year you are benchmarking (from January 1 through Dec 31). Since meters are frequently not read on the first or last day of the month, you may need to have 13 months of data so that the usage data begins before Jan 1 and ends after Dec 31.

If data is missing, either re-authorize web services for the meter, enter the data by hand, or follow up by email requesting support from PG&E and then resubmit the benchmark once the benchmark is complete. 

My site EUI/Energy Star Score is outside of typical bounds.

Double check that all property and energy use data for the benchmark is complete and accurate. Fix any errors and resubmit the benchmark. If all information was complete and accurate, email benchmark@sfenvironment.org confirming that you checked and information submitted was complete and accurate.