Benchmarking Begins for Owners of Large Commercial Buildings in Philadelphia


Last year, we notified you here that the city of Philadelphia adopted new energy benchmarking requirements to track and assess energy and water consumption for large commercial buildings. The time has come for owners to comply with the new benchmarking requirements.

Covered Buildings and Exemptions

Ordinance No. 120428-A requires owners or managers of large commercial buildings to annually report data regarding energy and water usage as well as other building characteristics, including the year in which the building was constructed, the building’s use, and building’s gross floor area. The benchmarking requirements apply to owners of commercial buildings with an indoor floor space of at least 50,000 square feet or mixed-use buildings where an indoor floor space of at least 50,000 square feet is devoted to commercial space.

Owners of certain large commercial buildings may be exempt from compliance with the benchmarking requirements. Owners do not need to comply with the benchmarking requirements where any of the following conditions apply: 1) 50 percent of the indoor floor space is unoccupied for more than 180 days in any calendar year; 2) the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability finds, upon application by an owner, that benchmarking or disclosure would cause exceptional hardship or would not be in the public interest; or 3) in the case of buildings that are primarily used for manufacturing or other industrial purposes, benchmarking results would not meaningfully reflect building energy use characteristics due to the intensive use of energy used in the actual manufacturing, production or processing of a good, commodity or other material.

Reporting Instructions and Reporting Deadlines

Owners should report energy and water consumption data using the EPA’s Portfolio Manager, which is a free Internet-based benchmarking tool. The Portfolio Manager is interfaced with the Philadelphia Custom Reporting Template and can be accessed here. Additionally, the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability recently developed step-by-step instructions on how to comply with the benchmarking requirements. The instructions can be accessed here.

The benchmarking ordinance requires owners to report the building’s energy and water usage data from the previous calendar year by June 30 of each year. However, the initial compliance date for the 2012 data was delayed to October 31 to allow sufficient time for compliance for the first deadline. This initial compliance date has been further delayed due to the federal government shutdown. During the shutdown, the EPA’s Portfolio Manager was offline and to account for the unavailability of the benchmarking tool, the city has pushed back the reporting deadline to November 25, 2013 for the 2012 data.

Owners who fail to comply with the benchmarking requirements will be subject to monetary fines. A fine of $300 will be assessed after the first 30 days of non-compliance and $100 per day each day thereafter.


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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