I have been receiving many phone calls asking this same question since the City of Los Angeles sent notices to building owners on June 1, 2022. The notices were sent to owners whose properties are over the 20,000 sq. ft. threshold and were tagged to comply with the City’s Existing Buildings Energy and Water Efficiency (EBEWE) Program. Within this threshold, the notice was sent to those required to comply with Phase II of the Ordinance and have an LA City Building ID ending in either a 2 or a 3. These properties have a Phase II compliance due date of December 1, 2022.


What is an Audit and Retro-commissioning (A/RCx) Report?

This is the second year of compliance for the City’s EBEWE Phase II which is required every five years after the initial compliance year.

Audits and Retro-commissioning (A/RCX) for both energy and water are required including performing the evaluations and generating the subsequent ASHRAE Level II reports. All work for Phase II must be done under the direct supervision of a California licensed engineer or architect as specified in Division 97 of the Los Angeles Municipal Code (LAMC).

The audit reports must include recommendations to improve the energy and water usage efficiency and a cost-benefit analysis for retrofitting the properties.

Do I Have Options?

Yes! Little does everyone know, although it is noted in item 2. of the notice, that a property may be exempted from performing the A/RCx.

There are in fact energy and water exemptions that can be met to avoid a costly ASHRAE Level II audit. Contact us to learn more. Stay tuned for Blog 2

Marika Erdely Headshot

Marika Erdely is the founder and CEO of Green EconoME. Before founding the company, she was CFO/VP at New Millennium Homes, a major home builder, and land developer, bringing with her nearly thirty years as an accounting professional. Marika has her Contractors License B & C-10 and is a LEED AP BD+C, Certified Energy Auditor, and Fitwel Ambassador. Marika holds an MBA from Pepperdine University and a BA in Business Economics from UCSB.

Chula Vista, CA joins a growing list of municipalities with building benchmarking and performance targets.

Chula Vista is the second-largest city in the San Diego metropolitan area and known as, “the lemon capital of the world”. It’s marine to mountain biodiversity and urban landscape requires the city to prioritize the unique challenges to the local community, on how it consumes and conserves natural resources. Which is why they are all-in on their 2017 Climate Action Plan. That and, it’s what all cities should be doing. As a building compliance service provider, we want to break down the why, what, who, when, and how of the ordinance, because we like to help!

WHY: Chula Vista Climate Action Plan

The 2017 Chula Vista Climate Action Plan is exemplary, with clear objectives and holistic strategies targeting clean growth, transportation, infrastructure, urban forestry, and energy, water, and waste reduction. Through the Plan, the city has committed to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 15% below 2005 levels by 2020 and 55% below 2005 levels by 2030. 

WHAT: Building Energy Saving Ordinance

One of the Climate Action Plan strategies to energy conservation in existing buildings comes as a familiar code and, for Chula Vista, is known as the Building Energy Saving Ordinance (BESO). Where cities like Los Angeles currently take a two-pronged approach: benchmarking and performance reporting, Chula Vista goes a step further to include minimum improvement requirements and transactional disclosure when applicable. 

We’ll call it the 1-5-10 Rule:

  • Every (1) year - ENERGY STAR® benchmark your building
  • Every five (5) years - meet conservation (performance targets) or audit (A/RCx) requirements
  • Every ten (10) years - demonstrate that your building is meeting the mandatory minimum improvement requirements
WHO: Owners of 20,000+ Sq.Ft. Multifamily & Commercial Buildings

Section 15.26.050 of the Municipal Code now requires multifamily and nonresidential buildings of at least 20,000 square feet to comply with the above Rule. The law and subsequent non-compliance fines apply to the owner, aka title holder of the property. The owner is responsible for maintaining all records related to their reporting. There are, of course, exemptions. Download our info sheet for a full list, but here are exemptions by building type:

  •       Residential buildings with less than five (residential) utility accounts
  •       Local and federal owned buildings
  •       Buildings owned by the Metropolitan Transit Service, Chula Vista and Sweetwater School Districts
WHEN: As Soon as January 2022

There is a gradual implementation of compliance reporting; however, benchmarking submission should be available starting in January. We’ll go back to the 1-5-10 Rule below, giving you a basic guideline:

 (1) Annual Benchmarking First Due Date:

  • March 20, 2022 - Buildings 20,000 - 49,999 Sq.Ft.
  • May 20, 2022 - Buildings 50,000+ Sq.Ft. 

(5) Year Conservation Requirements First Due Date:

  • Beginning 2023 or later - Buildings 50,000+ Sq.Ft. 
  • Beginning 2026 or later - Buildings 20,000 - 49,999 Sq.Ft.

(10) Year Minimum Improvement Requirements First Due Date:

  • Beginning 2023 or later - Multifamily Prescriptive Upgrades
  • Beginning 2028 or later - Buildings 50,000+ Sq.Ft.
  • Beginning 2031 or later - Buildings 20,000 - 49,999 Sq.Ft.
HOW: With a Little Help from Some Friends

The City of Chula Vista and ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager websites can help guide you through the benchmarking process and how to connect your SDG&E data. We always recommend automatic data upload, unless of course, you like manually entering billing data year after year. You can also hire us to do all of it!

There is currently no cost to comply; however, there is a cost to not comply! Failure to comply with this law results in a notification and 60-day window. If a building does not submit their report within that time, they are subject to fines of up to $2,250 on a per-incident basis, based on the building’s gross floor area (GFA).

All good plans come with a solution. There are incentives and programs available through the city to help businesses (and residents) identify areas of improvement and pay for efficiency upgrades. There are many incentives at the utility, state, and federal levels to help implement building resiliency as well.

Green EconoME is a full-service provider. Our team of multidisciplinary, qualified professionals can fulfill your 1-5-10 and are versed in the latest incentive programs and financing options. It is what our integrated approach is based on. Whether your goal is to simply comply or to fulfill ESG strategies, Green EconoME analyzes energy use, and existing conditions to provide solutions that reduce operating costs, and increase the value of your property. Contact us with questions or for pricing. Chula Vista, we are so excited for the health and future of your community, congratulations! We can’t wait to get started.

Los Angeles Existing Buildings Energy and Water Efficiency Ordinance (EBEWE): Phase II – What to Expect

If your building is a covered building and ≥20,000 sq. ft. (a.k.a. needs to comply with EBEWE), then you should have a few years of ENERGY STAR benchmarking under your belt. If not, stop reading and call us immediately at (424) 422–9696! In addition to your annual benchmarking, every five years you are required to show that you have either maintained a high-performing building or are taking steps to become one. Our job is to keep you informed, efficient and in compliance. Your job, when it comes to Phase II, is to make sure you have an efficiency budget in place and enough time to comply by your unique due date.

Below, we’ve outlined the program and Phase II compliance. We’ve also included an infographic for you visual learners, and some tips to comply:

EBEWE Program Summary

Local Policy: Los Angeles’ Green New Deal

Phase I Benchmarking Report: Due by June 1, annually

Phase II Performance Report: Due by December 1, every five-years based on the last digit of your LADBS Building ID

Program Fees: LADBS registration fee + surcharge for benchmarking is $66.41 / building / year, and $183 per audit/RCx confirmation submittal (subject to change)

The EBEWE Phase II Requirements

For Phase II, Building owners must either complete an ASHRAE Level II audit and retro-commissioning (RCx) OR meet one of the exemptions noted below before their compliance due date, which is determined by the last digit of the building’s LADBS Building ID.


Prescriptive Path

a) ASHRAE Level II Audit
The in-depth identification and documentation of a building’s energy and water-use equipment. Audits examine existing conditions to pinpoint potential areas of improvement for energy and water efficiency. Must meet or exceed ASHRAE Level II standards.

b) Retro-commissioning (RCx)
RCx is the re-tuning and maintenance of existing systems (energy and water). Your ASHRAE Level II audit will list recommended RCx measures. It will be important to have an implementation plan and budget in place prior to your due date.

Performance Path

Buildings that do not have to go through an Energy Audit and Retro-commissioning qualify for one of the following exemptions:

  1. ENERGY STAR Certification: The building has received this certification from the EPA for the year of the building’s compliance due date, or 2 of the 3 years prior.
  2. For buildings not eligible to receive an ENERGY STAR score, the building must perform 25% better than the national median of similar building types. This data is available through your benchmarking reporting.
  3. The building has reduced its Source Energy Use Intensity (EUI) by 15% when compared to the five years before a building’s compliance due date.
  4. Buildings that do not have a central cooling system must retrofit four of six prescribed energy efficiency measures noted in the EBEWE guidelines (available upon request).

Water Exemption to the Audit and Retro-commissioning:

Buildings that meet one of the below exemptions do not have to go through a Water Audit and RCx:

  1. The building has reduced its water use intensity by at least 20% when compared to the five years prior to the building’s compliance due date.
  2. Buildings that do not have a central cooling system must retrofit two of three prescribed water efficiency measures noted in the EBEWE guidelines (available upon request).
  3. The building’s water use conforms to the LA Municipal and Title 24 Code in effect at any time during the five-year compliance cycle.
  4. The building is new and has been occupied for less than five years from its occupancy date based on the Temporary or final Certificate of Occupancy.

*All exemptions must be certified by, or performed under the supervision of, a California licensed architect or engineer.

Know the Facts: Compliance Tips

  • Don’t be fooled into believing your building MUST receive an audit to comply. Not all buildings need to be audited. The price of an ASHRAE Level II audit can be significantly higher than available exemptions, so make sure you are being advised on the most efficient and cost-effective Phase II path to compliance for your building(s).
  • Performance metrics rely on twelve months of actual energy usage and information about the operations and physical characteristics of the building’s type and use. If this information is estimated or defaulted in your benchmarking report, the metrics will not be correct. Make sure your building has been accurately benchmarked.
  • As you see, this isn’t something that can be done quickly, or for free. If you need more information on creating a budget or financing options, call us.
  • Cities throughout the state (and country for that matter), also have local energy efficiency policy. If you have buildings outside of LA, make sure you are in compliance by checking our 2021 Guide.

As part of Green EconoME’s compliance services, we offer a consultation on the report's results, which includes an explanation and recommendations for energy efficiency improvements and how to meet EBEWE Phase II compliance. We will always make recommendations in the best interest of your building, budget and efficiency priorities.

Contact Green EconoME to meet your compliance requirements.

California’s energy efficiency action plan for existing buildings is ramping up in 2021. We are offering this guide to help identify what your city’s climate policy is and what the requirements are for existing commercial and residential buildings. Included are some tips for making the most of your efficiency compliance.

Why Existing Buildings?

Existing buildings are the second-largest source of GHG emissions in California. Identifying energy and water waste in our buildings provides valuable insight for policymakers. The chosen method of identifying is through local and state-mandated Energy Benchmarking and Performance Reporting. Benchmarking is the comparison of a site’s energy performance to similar type and use buildings over a specified period of time. ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager is the approved tool used to complete and submit benchmarking reports for compliance. Here are a few overall notes on meeting energy disclosure requirements:

  • The owner of the building is the responsible party 
  • These benchmarking laws are required annually
  • “Covered or disclosable buildings” are the building types that need to comply. Exceptions exist and vary per ordinance so be sure to check with your individual city’s program or contact us for program requirements 
  • When you comply with your local benchmarking ordinances, the city shares the data with the state, placing you in AB 802 compliance as well
  • Benchmarking provides insight into how efficient or inefficient your building is operating. Efficient buildings provide for lower operating costs and higher market valuations
  • Funding: there are available rebates and incentives through your utilities and in some places, local funding for compliance and energy efficiency projects. Most ordinance pages have links to these programs. Also check your electric, gas, and water company webpages for info, or contact us
  • The State of California and the City of San Diego only require annual energy disclosure. However, some cities also require buildings to become energy efficient or show their performance by meeting Energy Star Certification requirements

5 Tips for Compliance & Becoming a High-Performing Building

  1. Hire Green EconoME to complete your compliance and energy efficiency consulting. We understand that you have benchmarking service provider options; however, from our experience benchmarking over 1,600 buildings properly, not all benchmarking is the same. We place emphasis on accurately measuring your data, rather than meeting the bare minimum for compliance. It is not only the legal thing to do, it is also more economic in the long run. The data in your benchmarking report is valuable to the operation and investment of your property, and the basis of your performance reporting. If corners are cut, you may end up paying more in unnecessary (and costly) audits or having to rehire another firm to correct the work. 
  2. Add tenant authorization to your lease to release energy and water use data from the utilities. In some cases where the tenants are the electric/gas/water account holder, they are required to sign an authorization to share their usage data. As you can imagine, this is time consuming and not always successful. In lieu of the authorization, we can submit a copy of the lease if it includes authorization language. 
  3. Create an energy efficiency budget. The Better Buildings Financing Navigator is a great resource which outlines common barriers, solutions and considerations to energy financing. These ordinances are all-for-none if building owners and operators do not invest in the goal of achieving more energy and water efficient buildings by 2030. Visit our case studies for examples of the cost to savings you can achieve through efficiency projects.
  4. Leverage available rebates and incentives. In addition to outside funding and loans, there are robust programs for energy efficiency and clean power through utilities, local and federal government. Word on the street is that further funding (and further policy) will be proposed soon after the new administration takes office. Green EconoME calculates available rebates & incentives savings into our estimates and/or audit reports.
  5. Put your data to work. Use monthly data to track your energy & water use in ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. Demonstrating energy and water reductions through the benchmarking tool in some cities is a path to performance compliance. Either way, you now have a powerful tool that tracks your ongoing use, so take advantage of it. Green EconoME offers consultations to assess your building’s performance and identify problem areas or opportunities for savings.

Our hope is that the purpose of the requirements is clear and can inspire long term efficiency in your buildings. Our city and state leadership also recognize this can come as a big ask, and so they are supporting owners and communities through funding programs. Take advantage of them. Most importantly, existing buildings are recognized across the globe as a vital part of the solution. That is a big opportunity when you throw your hat in the ring. Good luck and call us if you need us. We cannot wait to see what California buildings can do.

Benchmarking Only
Benchmarking and Performance Reporting

Statewide Program

State Policy: Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act - SB 350

Benchmarking Report: Due by June 1, annually

Performance Report: N/A

Fees: N/A

Program Summary: Commercial buildings with more than 50,000 sq. ft. and no residential utility accounts, and multifamily residential buildings with more than 50,000 sq. ft. and 17 or more utility accounts must submit whole-building energy benchmarking reports annually.

Enforcement: Per Public Resource Code #25321, the California Energy Commission is able to enforce this law. This code states:¨If after five working days, the owner does not comply, the owner will be subject to a civil penalty (after a hearing that complies with constitutional requirements. Civil Penalty will not be less than $500 nor more than $2,000 for each category of data for each day the violation existed and continues to exist.”

Bay Area Programs By City

Local Policy: Climate Smart San Jose

Benchmarking Report: Due by May 1, annually

Performance Report: Due every five years based on building size and last digit of APN

Fees: $150 annual benchmarking reporting fee

Program Summary: Commercial and multifamily buildings 20,000 square feet and over required to submit the whole building energy and water benchmarking report annually to the City. Starting in 2021, buildings must submit a report demonstrating high-performance or efforts toward reducing energy and water use. See program details and schedule for performance compliance here.

Enforcement:It is unlawful to violate any provision or to fail to comply. Each and every violation shall constitute a separate violation each day for ongoing violations and shall be subject to the remedies and enforcement measures authorized by the Code.”

Local Policy: San Francisco Climate Action Plan

Benchmarking Report: Due annually on April 1*

Performance Report: Required every 5 years for nonresidential buildings

  • Buildings 50,000 square feet and larger: ASHRAE Level II audit
  • Buildings 10,000 to 49,999 square feet: ASHRAE Level I audit

Fees: N/A

Program Summary: Existing non-residential buildings with 10,000 square feet or more of space that is heated or cooled and existing multifamily residential buildings with 50,000 square feet or more of space that is heated or cooled. The Ordinance has two separate requirements: whole building energy benchmarking and energy audits.

Enforcement: “Fine can be levied 45 days after the written notice of violation. Buildings of 25,000 sq.ft. and larger can be subject to fines of $100 per day, up to a maximum of $2,500 per violation. Buildings smaller than 25,000 sq.ft. can be subject to fines of $50 per day, up to a maximum of $1,500 per violation.”

Local Policy: Berkeley Climate Action Plan

Benchmarking Report: Due by July 1, annually for buildings 25,000 sq. ft and above. Buildings 15,000 sq. ft and above will be required to comply beginning July 1, 2022.

Performance Report: Assessment is due every five-years for buildings over 25,000 sq.ft., and time of listing for buildings under 25,000 sq. ft.

Fees: No benchmarking fees. $240 energy assessment filing fee for large buildings over 25,000 sq. ft. See table for a time of sale assessment filing fees.

Program Summary: Commercial and residential buildings below 15,000 sq. ft. are required to complete and submit an energy assessment at the time of sale. Assessments must be completed by registered assessors/auditors. Buildings 15,000 sq.ft. and above must submit benchmarking reports annually, in addition to their assessment requirement. See table:

BESO - City of Berkeley, CA - https://www.cityofberkeley.info/BESO/

Enforcement: “Any person who violates the Ordinance may be subject to a fine of $100 for each violation, and an additional fine of up to $25 for each day that the violation continues, up to a maximum of $1,000 per violation.”

Southern California Programs By City

Local Policy: Los Angeles’ Green New Deal

Benchmarking Report: Due by June 1, annually

Performance Report: Due by December 1, every five-years based on the last digit of your LADBS Building ID

Fees: LADBS registration fee + surcharge for benchmarking is $66.41 / building / year, and $183 per audit/RCx confirmation submittal.

Program Summary: Buildings 20,000 sq ft or more in gross floor area privately owned or owned by a local agency of the State in the City of Los Angeles must report energy and water use annually, and a performance report every five years, based on qualifying performance metrics or prescribed efficiency measures outlined in the ordinance. Head to our EBEWE page for further program details.

Enforcement: Program non-compliance fee of $202 / building, plus disruption to LADBS permitting requests, or transactions. This fee is subject to double digit interest each month.

Local Policy: The City of San Diego Climate Action Plan (CAP)

Benchmarking Report: Due by June 1, annually

Performance Report: N/A

Fees: N/A

Program Summary: Commercial buildings over 50,000 square feet and multifamily and mixed-use buildings greater than 50,000 square feet and with 17 or more residential accounts in the City of San Diego are required to submit whole-building energy data (water not required).

Enforcement: Violations may be prosecuted as misdemeanors subject to the fines and custody provided in San Diego Municipal Code. Additionally, the Department Director may seek injunctive relief and civil penalties in the Superior Court pursuant to San Diego Municipal Code.

Energy Disclosure in California has had a bumpy road...

AB 1103, in effect from 2014 to 2015, required all sales, refinancing, and single tenant leases of an entire building, of  10,000+ sq. ft. or more was required to disclose energy usage prior to signing of any financial contract.

In October of 2015, the California Energy Commission (CEC) decided to appeal AB 1103 because utilities struggled to access energy usage data in multi-tenant buildings due to privacy laws.  All meter rate payers own their energy usage data unless they authorize its release. Thus, building owners could not access tenant data in order to produce accurate energy disclosure reports and comply with AB 1103. Further, AB 1103 did not have enforcement mechanisms in place to even guarantee compliance. 

Enter AB 802: California’s new Energy Disclosure law. AB 802 applies to all buildings over 50,000 sq. ft., including multi-family, which were not included in AB 1103. AB 802 allows utilities to download aggregate “whole building” data, including common and tenant data, into one number, effectively eliminating any privacy law concerns. 

Although the California Energy Commission (CEC) has not sent notices to building owners requiring compliance,  AB 802 is a law, and disclosure is required on an annual basis. Unlike AB 1103, AB 802 provides for enforcement mechanisms in the form of civil penalties - up to $2000/day for each day a building owner is non-compliant.(Public Resources Code, Section 25321).

Since AB 802 is a law, it would make sense to request these energy disclosures when purchasing or leasing a building, just like any other disclosure document. 

Reach out to Green EconoME to help get your AB 802 report filed before the CEC starts enforcing.

Energy Benchmarking measures and reports the energy performance of a given building, ensuring compliance with local and state laws.  It also allows for performance comparisons to other benchmarked buildings of a similar size, occupancy and climate.


Benchmarking via the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager software is required by both city and state-wide legislature. Cities such as, Los Angeles (EBEWE), San Francisco, and Berkeley have all enacted ordinances requiring commercial and multi-family buildings to conduct an energy audit and report their annual energy usage. Most recently, the State of California has renewed a new energy disclosure law, AB 802, formerly known as AB 1103, requiring annual energy disclosure.


Research shows that commercial buildings waste 30% of their energy. Building energy benchmarking empowers its owners by revealing crucial energy use data, pinpointing areas of potential efficiency improvement and cost savings. Such transparency allows owners to remain competitive and to take specific action to increase the longevity of building systems.

Owners who have benchmarked their buildings are more inclined to focus on energy efficiency and have consistently reduced their energy use by an average of 2.4% per year.


Benchmarking is available for 21 different types of facilities and produces an Energy Star Score between 1 and 100, with 100 being the most energy efficiency. The process also calculates the Site and Source Energy Use Intensity (EUI) of the building and compares it against the National Median of CBECS data*. When comparing these scores against similar building types/uses in the software, building owners begin to understand how this performance stands in regards to energy and water efficiency. Owners can take specific steps to mitigate energy shortfalls and improve efficiency, resulting in a higher net operating income.

*  Also known as Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey using 2012 survey data.


In addition to supplying current snapshots of a building’s energy use, energy benchmarking yields data on past use as well, giving light to patterns of use over time.

Such a window grants owners the viewpoint to make smarter decisions about energy efficiency solutions and energy management and to optimize capital investments into energy-efficient technologies going forward.

Consistent energy benchmarking provides valuable insight as to the building’s performance over time which provides data for decision-making.


Getting started with benchmarking can often be the biggest hurdle.

Contact Green EconoME to begin the benchmarking process, or to find out more. We have benchmarked over 1400 buildings.