Key Dates

March 1: Submit utility requests for data to ensure response before May 1

April 1: Exemption requests must be filed with the city

May 1: Benchmarking reports must be submitted to the city

Commercial and multifamily buildings 20,000 square feet and over are required to submit their whole building energy and water benchmarking report to the City by May 1, annually to comply with this disclosure ordinance.

Starting in 2021, every five years buildings must submit a report demonstrating high-performance or efforts toward reducing energy and water use. 

Green EconoME is a ‘Qualified Auditor’ and can identify whether your building is a covered building, meets an exemption, and can fulfill your complete compliance.

Phase 1: Benchmarking Due May 1, Annually

Energy benchmarking measures and tracks energy and water usage and GHG emissions. Utility data, along with certain physical and operational characteristics of the building are entered into the EPA’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager software to produce a performance report. This report provides building owners with an ENERGY STAR Score, of 1 to 100, with 100 being the most energy efficient. 

Responsible Party
  • An individual or entity possessing the title to a property
  • The Board of Directors, in the case of a cooperative apartment corporation

Annual Process

  • All covered commercial and multifamily buildings 20,000 square feet and over must complete & submit to the city, their benchmarking report with complete whole building energy & water use data from the previous year. Compliance status and summary statistics are publicly disclosed.
  • Submit a $150 reporting fee

Phase II: Beyond Benchmarking Due May 1, Every Five Years

Starting as early as 2021, buildings must meet certain efficiency standards (Performance Path) or undergo an energy or water audit and retro-commissioning. In some cases, buildings may be required to retrofit systems via one of the Efficiency Improvement Measures defined by the ordinance (Improvement Path). Reporting is every five years, and your initial compliance due date is based on the last digit of the building AIN, as follows:

Performance Path

Section 17.85.410 - Highly efficient properties may be exempt from having to complete an audit, retro-commissioning or retrofit. A California licensed engineer or architect, Qualified Auditor, or Retro-commissioning Professional must certify at least one of the following performance standards:


  • The property is new and has been occupied for less than five (5) years from its first compliance due date, based on its Temporary Certificate of Occupancy or Certificate of Occupancy.
  • The Property has a current (LEED™) Existing Buildings Operations and Maintenance v4 Certification.
  • The Property received an ENERGY STAR Score of 75 or greater from the US EPA.
  • The Property improved its ENERGY STAR Score by fifteen (15) points or more relative to its performance during the baseline year.
  • The Property has a Source Energy Use Intensity (EUI) that is twenty-five percent (25%) below the calculated mean for that property type.
  • The Property has reduced its Source Energy Use Intensity (EUI) by at least fifteen percent (15%) relative to its performance during the baseline year.



  • The building received a US EPA Water Score of 75.
  • The Property improved its US EPA Water Score by fifteen (15) points or more relative to its performance during the baseline year.
  • The Property has a Water Use Intensity that is twenty-five percent (25%) below the locally calculated mean for that property type.
  • The Property has reduced its Water Use Intensity by at least fifteen percent (15%) relative to its performance during the baseline year.


Improvement Pathways

Section 17.85.420 - If a property does not meet any of the performance standards above, an owner shall meet the requirements through one of three alternative means:

  1. Conduct Energy & Water Audits. A report of the Audit, completed and signed by a Qualified Auditor, shall be submitted to the City and maintained by the owner:
    1. ASHRAE Level II standards energy audit.
    2. Energy assessment or audit offered by the utilities serving the property provided that the potential savings opportunities related to all energy sources are evaluated.
    3. Water audit performed per industry-standard practices.
  2. Perform Energy & Water Retro-commissioning (RCx), submit report:
    1. ASHRAE Guideline 0.2, Commissioning Process for Existing Systems and Assemblies.
    2. Retro-commissioning of the Base Building Systems must include certain measures, listed in the ordinance.
  3. Adopting Efficiency Improvement Measures, submit report:
    1. A property that does not have a central cooling system, and does not meet any of the above standards, may implement two energy and water efficiency measures from a prescribed list found in the ordinance.

As of March 2021 - Per the program webpage, “City staff anticipates that the original target date, May 1, 2021, will be extended to May 1, 2023. During the COVID-19 pandemic, building use may not reflect normal patterns and, as a result, not provide a reliable baseline. Staff are bringing this forward for City Council consent on March 30, 2021.” Sign Up for status updates.

Exemptions from Compliance:

The Owner may receive an exemption from filing a benchmarking report in a given year if any of the following conditions apply:

  • The property did not have a Certificate of Occupancy or Temporary Certificate of Occupancy for the entire calendar year
  • The entire property was not occupied, due to renovation, for the entire calendar year
  • A demolition permit for the entire property has been issued, and demolition work has commenced, on or before the date that disclosure is due for that calendar year
  • The property did not receive Energy or water services for the entire calendar year
  • The property is in Financial Distress
  • The disclosure of energy or water use data would result in the release of proprietary information that can be characterized as a trade secret or would otherwise violate a customer’s right to privacy under the California Constitution or other applicable law.


Why Is It Important?

Higher efficient buildings with high benchmarking scores contribute greatly to community-wide greenhouse gas reduction efforts. These efforts will help reach the greenhouse gas reduction and water conservation goals set by Climate Smart San José, as well as the state and US commitment to deep decarbonization by 2050.

Non-Compliance Penalties

It is unlawful for any person to violate or to fail to comply with any of the requirements of the ordinance. Every violation shall constitute a separate violation each day for ongoing violations, subject to:

≥50,000 sq.ft. – $50/day up to $5,000/calendar year

≥20,000 sq. ft. $25/day up to $2,500/calendar year (until 2021)

Educational Opportunity

Marika Erdely, MBA, LEED AP BD+C, CEA, CEO of Green EconoME is a well-known presenter on energy disclosure laws. Her half-hour presentation provides a concise summary of what is required and what is happening in the world of energy efficiency.

Contact her directly to schedule at 818-681-5750 or