Chicago Energy Benchmarking Overview

If you are new to the Chicago Energy Benchmarking Ordinance, start here to get the basics and to learn if you need to comply. The following topics are covered in this section:

Return to the Chicago Energy Benchmarking Homepage.


Questions? We can help!  Call the Chicago Energy Benchmarking Help Center at (855) 858-6878 (M-F 9am-5pm) or email


Chicago Energy Benchmarking Ordinance Background:

In September 2013, Mayor Emanuel and Chicago’s City Council adopted a building energy benchmarking ordinance to raise awareness of energy performance through information and transparency, with the goal of unlocking energy and cost savings opportunities for businesses and residents.

Chicago's Building Energy Use Benchmarking Ordinance (ordinance textimplementation rules & regulations) calls on existing commercial, institutional, and residential buildings larger than 50,000 square feet to track whole-building energy use, report to the City annually, and verify data accuracy every three years.  The law covers less than 1% of Chicago’s buildings, which account for ~20% of total energy used by all buildings.

Improving energy efficiency is a key element of Sustainable Chicago 2015, Mayor Emanuel’s action agenda to make Chicago more livable, competitive, and sustainable.

More than 85 partner organizations have publicly supported Chicago Energy Benchmarking, including leaders across Chicago’s real estate, energy, and public interest communities.  Please click here for a list of benchmarking benefits and public supporters.


Chicago Energy Benchmarking Ordinance Requirements:

The Chicago Energy Benchmarking Ordinance focuses on creating information that will enable better decision-making.  It does not require buildings to make any mandatory investments.  The ordinance has three requirements:

  1. Benchmark energy use (annually): Covered buildings will track basic building information and whole-building energy use (electricity, natural gas, and any other fuels, including common spaces and tenant-occupied spaces) using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, a free online tool offered by the US EPA.
  2. Verify energy data (every 3 years): In the first year in which buildings benchmark, and every third year thereafter, buildings will have energy and building data reviewed by an in-house or 3rd-party professional with a license or training credential recognized by the City.
  3. Report to the City (annually): Click the 2024 Chicago Energy Benchmarking Reporting Link (through ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager) and follow and follow the prompts to send benchmarking data to the City of Chicago no later than June 1st.

Please visit the Chicago Energy Benchmarking Instructions & Guidance Materials webpage for detailed descriptions of ordinance requirements and how to comply.

Key Definitions:

The ordinance applies to all existing commercial, institutional, and residential buildings larger than 50,000 square feet in the City of Chicago.

Key Definitions:

  • Building: A "building" is a structure, or part thereof, enclosing any use or occupancy including residential, institutional, assembly, business, mercantile, and miscellaneous uses (Municipal Code of Chicago, Chapter 13-4-010).
  • Building Owners, Managers, and Agents: The ordinance applies to all owners, managers, and/or agents of each covered building.  Only ONE benchmarking data submission is required per building per year.  If a covered building does not comply with the ordinance, ALL owners / managers / agents can be held responsible. This is consistent with the definition of "owner" contained in the Municipal Code of Chicago, Chapter 13-4-010.
  • Building Size:  Building size is defined as gross square footage - the total number of square feet measured between the exterior fixed walls of a building.  This includes common space, tenant-occupied space, mechanical or electrical rooms, and interior parking. (Leasable square footage is a subset of total building size.)
  • Building Type / Occupancy Use: Building type (or 'occupancy use') is determined by how space is used within a building.  The benchmarking ordinance applies to commercial, residential, institutional, assembly, schools, businesses, and mercantile units, as well as spaces with mixed occupancy or auxiliary uses.
  • Non-Covered Space Uses: The benchmarking ordinance does not apply to buildings with more than 10% or more of gross square footage classified as Class D open air assembly units, Class G industrial units, Class H storage units, Class I hazardous use units, or Class J miscellaneous buildings and structures (as defined by the Municipal Code of Chicago, Chapter 13-56).

Using the best available information, the City will notify covered buildings in the years in which they are required to comply. Additional information on building occupancy classifications is available in the Municipal Code of Chicago Chapter 13-56.

Covered Buildings List:

Please click the following link for the Covered Buildings List (City of Chicago Data Portal) of facilities that are required to comply with the Chicago Energy Benchmarking ordinance this year. If you have never submitted a report for your building and would like to get started, please follow the instructions here

If you believe your building has report in the past but you do not see your building included on the Covered Building List, please reach out to the Chicago Energy Benchmarking Help Desk with any questions - (855) 858.6878 (M-F 9am-5pm) or email

If your building is listed on the Covered Buildings List and you believe you are eligible for an exemption, you may request an exemption by filing out an Online Request Form.

Questions? We Can Help!

Call the Chicago Energy Benchmarking Help Center at (855) 858-6878 (M-F, 9am-5pm) or email

Additional Information



Chicago Energy Benchmarking Home

Instructions & Guidance Materials

Free Training & Building Support

Request Forms (IDs, exemptions, & pro-bono support)

Previous Results, Analysis, & Building Data

Additional Information & Resources



“This ordinance will help to capture the information to enable better informed real estate decisions and unlock the market for energy efficiency.  We believe that this ordinance addresses key business and policy priorities in our sector, including saving money, creating local jobs, protecting our health, and promot[ing] Chicago’s position as a leading sustainable city to attract new business and succeed in the global market place.”

– Commercial and Residential Real Estate Management Executive


“Energy efficiency is not a passing fad; it has become a core value and operating principle for many of Chicago’s largest corporate tenants, condo owners, and residential tenants.”

– Commercial and Residential Real Estate Manager


“Energy [benchmarking and] disclosure [across our management portfolio of more than 1,000 buildings] has helped [condominium] board members feel comfortable making decisions to improve efficiency because they have more accurate data on which to base their decision. They are also able to better quantify the investment and return they will generate. We have found that the more informed owners are about their building’s environmental impact, the more empowered they are to improve it.”

– Residential Portfolio Director of Operations


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