For each non-residential building with 10,000 gross square feet or more of conditioned space, meaning all areas designed to be heated or cooled, the building owner must obtain an energy audit, Strategic Decarbonization Assessment (SDA), or retrocommissioning study every 5 years. The audit or decarbonization assessment must be performed by a qualified professional. This page explains the process to document compliance. 

Key Steps

A qualified energy professional will require time in order to provide a quality examination of a building and identify the best opportunities for improvement.

  1. Notify Dept of Environment: Once the owner has established a contract for an audit or decarbonization assessment, the energy professional should notify Dept of Environment. This step 'stops the clock'; when a contract has been established SF Environment will allow reasonable time for a thorough analysis.
  2. Perform an energy audit, retrocommissioning study, or Strategic Decarbonization Assessment.
  3. Deliver a thorough Energy Audit Report, Strategic Decarbonization Assessment, or Retrocommissioning Report to the building owner. 
  4. Submit an online summary to Dept of Environment. This summary is called a "Confirmation of Energy Audit".

Confirmation of Energy Audit

A Confirmation of Energy Audit is a summary of the findings of an audit, retrocommissioning study, or decarbonization assesment. It includes:

  • Contact information for the building and building owner
  • Auditor name and qualifications, and when the audit was completed
  • Preliminary Energy-Use Analysis (PEA) - including review of all data in the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager account used for submittal of the most recent benchmark report(s), including energy usage, floor area, space usage, and all attributes considered in 1-100 score (where applicable). The building owner must either provide a copy of the Portfolio Manager Data Verification Checklist, or access to the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager account. 
  • A list of all cost-effective retrofit (or retro-commissioning) measures identified through an examination of the entire building, including all energy systems. For reporting purposes, “cost-effective” means energy efficiency measures that are estimated by the auditor to either:
    • Each have a simple payback of 3 years or less,
    • Each have a beneficial net present value,
    • Comprise an integrated package with an overall simple payback of approximately 3 years, OR
    • Comprise an integrated package with beneficial net present value. 

How to Submit a Confirmation of Energy Audit 

A Confirmation of Energy Audit may only be filed by the Energy Professional who conducts the audit.

Energy Audits and Retrocommissioning

For energy efficiency audits and retrocommissioning studies, a Confirmation of Energy Audit is submitted via the US Department of Energy's 'Audit Template' tool. The process:

  1. Register for a free account with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Building Energy Audit Template tool (which is a function of the US DOE Energy Asset Score website). Be sure to register with the email address you will use for submitting the Confirmation of Energy Audit.
  2. Validate email address and login.
  3. Create a new audit report by clicking on the “New Audit Report” button on the right side. Select “Other City Report”, and "San Francisco Report". (Important - you must select “San Francisco Report” as the report type.)
  4. Complete the Confirmation of Energy Audit report.
    • Each screen has a Help icon that links to an associated module of an online Audit Template User Guide. The User Guide is connected to the Asset Score Help Desk, which may be used to submit a support ticket to request assistance.
    • When minimum data requirements have been completed, including the information noted above, an audit can be submitted for review.
  5. Audit Template provides automated confirmation that the Confirmation of Energy Audit was submitted.
  6. SF Environment will review the audit. Via email SF Environment will either confirm the requirement has been fulfilled, or specify deficiencies that must be corrected.  


Audit Template Quick Start Guide (PDF)

Audit Template User Guide

Asset Score Help Desk

Strategic Decarbonization Assessment

The SDA tool is closely modeled on ASHRAE 211 normative forms, but the tool is configured with some information and processes that are not currently supported by Audit Template. Therefore to fulfill the requirement with a decarbonization assessment:

  1. Complete the analysis in the SDA tool
  2. Submit via email to the EBO Helpdesk:
    • Copy of written report (PDF). Please label "Confidential Business Information" if applicable. 
    • Completed SDA tool. At a minimum:
      • ​Complete each applicable item on each page
      • Equipment Inventory must account for at least 80% of annual site energy use, and reasonable estimates as to remaining useful life and rough cost
      • Scenarios: A minimum of three scenarios must be complete, and a minimum of one scenario must include energ-efficient electrification of one or more major building systems 
      • Financial info: The auditor is encouraged to submit the SDA tool with the financial defaults as provided; it is not necessary to share actual specific financial details.  
  3. SF Environment will confirm by email that the SDA was submitted. 
  4. SF Environment will review the SDA and confirm compliance or follow-up by email. Significant deference will be afforded for reasonable analysis.

Exemptions to Audit Requirements

An Energy Audit is not required if the building is new or is recognized by a third party as high performing:

  • High Performance Buildings: The building has received the ENERGY STAR in 3 of the past 5 years, or LEED for Existing Buildings certification in the past 5 years.
  • New Construction: The building was constructed (i.e. received a final Certificate of Occupancy) in the past 5 years.

Buildings that meet these criteria are exempt from an audit until the next audit cycle, and will remain exempt if they maintain current recognition for high performance.

Buildings are also exempt from the audit requirement for as long as any of the following conditions apply:

  • Unoccupied Buildings: (The building had less than one full-time equivalent occupant for the previous calendar year.)
  • Financial Distress: Examples of qualifying financial distress include:
  • Properties qualified for sale at public auction by the Treasurer and Tax Collector due to arrears of property taxes that resulted in the property's qualification for sale at public auction, or acquisition by a public agency within two years prior to the due date of an energy audit report
  • A court appointed receiver is in control of the asset due to financial distress
  • Buildings owned by a financial institution through default by the borrower
  • Buildings acquired by a deed in lieu of foreclosure
  • Buildings where the senior mortgage is subject to a notice of default.

In all other cases, the Confirmation of Energy Audit is required by the assigned due date.

To request an Exemption to the Energy Audit requirement based on one of the conditions above, please email with appropriate reference material to confirm the exemption.

Register an Audit as Pending (i.e. in progress)

Once SFEnvironment receives notice from an Energy Service Provider that a given building is under contract for audit or retrocommissioning study that will fulfill the requirements of the ordinance, the building owner is safe from penalty provided the audit is completed as soon as reasonably possible. (A high quality analysis should be the highest priority for all parties.) Buildings with an audit in progress or under review by SF Environment are denoted as "Pending" on the public Compliance Report.  

To register an audit or retrocommissioning study as Pending, please complete this form.