Chicago Energy Benchmarking: ALT Homepage

2015 Chicago Energy Benchmarking:  

The next Chicago Energy Benchmarking compliance deadline is June 1, 2015 for municipal and commercial buildings larger than 50,000 square feet and residential buildings larger than 250,000 square feet.  

2015 Chicago Energy Benchmarking Quick Links

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


Welcome & Introduction

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 textrules & regulations) calls on existing municipal, commercial, 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 3-year action agenda to make Chicago more livable, competitive, and sustainable.

Click here to view the ordinance text and rules and regulations.


2014 Chicago Energy Benchmarking

2014 Chicago Building Energy Benchmarking Report

The 2014 Chicago Building Energy Benchmarking Report is now available.  

Thank you to all Chicago building owners and representatives who benchmarked, verified, and reported for the first time in 2014!


Overview of Ordinance Requirements, Covered Buildings, Key Dates & Compliance Deadlines

Buildings reporting for the first time in 2015 are required to benchmark, verify, and report data; nonresidential buildings over 250,000 square feet that reported in 2014 will benchmark and report, but are not required to verify data until 2017.  Deadlines for additional buildings covered by the ordinance will phase-in through 2016.

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 parts:

  1. Benchmark energy use (annually): Covered buildings will track energy consumption and basic building characteristics 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):  Using the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager software, covered buildings will report basic building and energy data to the City of Chicago, which will report annually on energy efficiency.

The City will report each year on aggregate energy efficiency trends, and the ordinance authorizes the City to share building-specific data with the public beginning with buildings' second year of reported information.

Covered Buildings:

The ordinance applies to existing municipal, commercial, and residential buildings larger than 50,000 square feet, with first-time compliance deadlines based on size and occupancy use.

  • 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, private space, mechanical or electrical rooms, and interior parking.
  • Building Occupancy Use: Building occupancy 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.
  • Mixed-Use Residential Buildings: For the purpose of determining initial compliance timing, any covered building with 10% or more of its gross square footage classified as Class A residential units (as defined by the Municipal Code of Chicago, Chapter 13-56) should adhere to the compliance deadlines for residential buildings.
  • Non-Covered Occupancy 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.

Key Dates & Compliance Deadlines:

The Chicago Energy Benchmarking ordinance will phase-in from 2014-2016.  After a covered building's first annual compliance deadline, it must benchmark and report by June 1st every year thereafter, with data verification every third year.

First-time compliance deadlines are based on building size and occupancy use, according to the following schedule:

  • June 1, 2014: Municipal & commercial buildings ≥ 250,000 square feet
  • June 1, 2015: Municipal & commercial buildings 50,000 – 250,000 square feet; residential buildings ≥ 250,000 square feet 
  • June 1, 2016: Residential buildings 50,000 – 250,000 square feet

Please see the 1-page Chicago Energy Benchmarking Fact Sheet for an overview of the ordinance and to help buildings get started.


2015 Benchmarking Instructions & Guidance Materials

The next Chicago Energy Benchmarking compliance deadline is June 1, 2015 for municipal and commercial buildings larger than 50,000 square feet and residential buildings larger than 250,000 square feet.  

2015 Fact Sheet, Benchmarking Guide, Compliance Checklist, and FAQs:

Please refer to the following materials for step-by-step guidance on how to comply with the Chicago Energy Benchmarking ordinance:

How to Comply With the Benchmarking Ordinance:

  1. Get Started (target: by 3/20): Determine whether your building must comply in 2015, Identify a benchmarking lead
  2. Benchmark Your Building in ENERGY STAR PORTFOLIO Manager (target: by 4/30): Create a Portfolio Manager account and property profile(s); gather basic information required by Portfolio Manager; obtain monthly, whole-building energy use data for all fuel types; enter property uses & details; enter energy use data; enter your Chicago Energy Benchmarking ID
  3. Verify Building Data (target: by 5/15): Generate a Data Verification Checklist in Portfolio Manager; Have a recognized professional review and sign-off on the data; Add data verifier information to Portfolio Manager
  4. Report to the City (required completion by 6/1): Generate and review the building's report in Portfolio Manager; Submit to the City through Portfolio Manager

Additional Details on Chicago Energy Benchmarking Compliance:

Obtaining Whole-Building Energy DataOwners and managers of covered buildings are strongly encouraged to take advantage of aggregated electricity and natural gas data provided by Chicago utilities at no additional charge to covered buildings.


  • Electricity - ComEd: ComEd's Energy Usage Data System (EUDS) allows building owners and property managers to retrieve aggregate energy usage data for multi-tenant commercial and residential buildings.  EUDS instructions and enrollment forms are available at

Peoples Gas

US EPA ENERGY STARUsing ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager: To facilitate building benchmarking, data verification, and reporting, the Chicago Energy Benchmarking Ordinance uses ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, a free online software tool developed by the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA).

In addition to the Chicago Energy Benchmarking Guide and other support materials listed above, the US EPA provides free online resources to help buildings get started with energy benchmarking.

Please visit the Chicago Energy Benchmarking Training & Building Support page for additional materials and how-to videos on the Portfolio Manager software tool and the entire ENERGY STAR Program.

Fulfilling the Data Verification Requirement / Finding A Recognized Data Verifier:  To ensure that data is being tracked and reported correctly, covered buildings must have their energy and building data reviewed and verified every three years. 

The ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager Data Verification Checklist, signed by a trained individual whose professional license or training program credential is recognized by the City, serves as proof of data verification.  Data verifier information must be entered into the "Property Notes" section of each building's Portfolio Manager profile, as described in the Chicago Energy Benchmarking Guide and Compliance Checklist.  

Data verifiers may be in-house building staff members or 3rd party professionals.

The City of Chicago currently recognizes the following data verifier licenses and training program credentials:

Additional data verifier licenses and training program credentials may be recognized by the City and posted to this website.

The City also recognizes buildings that have achieved ENERGY STAR Certification by the US Environmental Protection Agency as fulfilling the data verification requirement, provided that the building's ENERGY STAR certified data include at least six months of the calendar year for which Chicago Energy Benchmarking data verification is required.

Some covered buildings may be eligible for pro-bono data verification through the U.S. Green Building Council's Illinois Chapter, ASHRAE Illinois, AIA-Chicago, and local volunteers.  Please scroll down to "Free Training & Building Support" for additional information on pro-bono data verification opportunities and other building support.

Reporting to the City: Once a building has been benchmarked in Portfolio Manager and data has been verified, covered buildings must submit their annual report to the City of Chicago using the 2015 Chicago Energy Benchmarking Reporting Link.

After clicking the reporting link, users will be prompted to log into their Portfolio Manager account, which will guide them through several simple reporting steps (including selecting the building(s) on which to report, reviewing the information to be reported, and sharing that information with the City of Chicago).

The 2015 Chicago Energy Benchmarking Data Reporting link will be posted here in March.


Building Request Forms: Information Updates, Exemptions, & Other Requests

New for 2015, the Chicago Energy Benchmarking Help Center is offering web-based forms for covered buildings to update their information and to request various exemptions under the ordinance.

Access Building Request Forms Online: Please visit the Chicago Energy Benchmarking Building Request Forms page for the following web-based or PDF forms:


Free Training & Building Support

Please visit the Chicago Energy Benchmarking Training & Building Support page to sign up for free in-person training and other resources to help buildings comply with the June 1st, 2015 compliance deadline.

Upcoming 2015 Chicago Energy Benchmarking Training Sessions:

US EPA ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager Support:


The US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) offers free online resources on energy benchmarking and performance improvement, including:

Pro-Bono Data Verification:  

To assist qualifying covered buildings in complying with the Chicago Energy Benchmarking Ordinance, the City and partners are offering free professional data verifications through the ASHRAE Illinois Chapter, the U.S. Green Building Council Illinois Chapter, the American Institute of Architects Chicago, and local volunteers.

This pro-bono support seeks to ensure that all covered buildings have access professional data verification, even if they have limited staff and financial resources.

The application for pro-bono data verification support is available on the Chicago Energy Benchmarking Building Request Forms page, and additional program information is available here.

Chicago Energy Benchmarking Help Center: 

Questions?  We can help!  The Chicago Energy Benchmarking Help Center provides phone and email support for all questions related to the ordinance:


Utility Incentives, Funding, & Technical Support to Improve Building Energy Performance

In 2007, the State of Illinois passed legislation requiring energy utilities to set aside ratepayer funds to invest in energy efficiency.  The resulting utility incentives expand opportunities for buildings to pursue subsidized energy efficiency improvements that save money and energy:

Commercial Buildings:

Residential Buildings:


Partners, Champions, & Public Support

More than 85 organizations have publicly supported this ordinance, including leaders across Chicago’s real estate, energy, and public interest communities.  A list of benchmarking benefits and public supporters can be found here.

Additional Information

2014 Chicago Building Energy Benchmarking Report

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 2014 Chicago Energy Benchmarking Report

2014 Chicago Building Energy Benchmarking At-A-Glance 

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 2014 Chicago Energy Benchmarking At-A-Glance

Chicago Energy Benchmarking Support

“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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