Benchmarking: More than a Good Idea, It’s the Law

By George Crawford

Benchmarking—measuring, tracking, and evaluating energy and water consumption using standard metrics, and comparing those numbers among similar buildings—has always been a good idea. Now it’s the law for many New York City property owners.

Starting in 2018, owners of mid-size buildings that are larger than 25,000 square feet and smaller than 50,000 square feet will be required to benchmark annually for the first time.

NYC Benchmarking Law

The NYC Benchmarking Law requires owners of large buildings to annually measure their energy and water consumption. The law standardizes this process by requiring building owners to enter their annual energy and water use in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) online tool, ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. Benchmarking data is disclosed publicly, analyzed in reports, and visualized in the NYC Energy and Water Performance Map.

In addition, this information supports energy efficiency policy development efforts, such as the Buildings Technical Working Group. The city also uses benchmarking data to develop free resources, including the NYC Retrofit Accelerator and Community Retrofit NYC, which help building owners use less energy and save money.

Risks of Noncompliance

The Department of Buildings (DOB) is authorized to issue violations for any property on the Covered Buildings list that has not provided a benchmarking report by the May 1 deadline. Failure to benchmark will result in a violation and a $500 penalty. Continued failure to benchmark by subsequent deadlines—August 1, November 1, and February 1—will result in additional violations and a penalty of $500 per quarter, with a maximum penalty of $2,000 per year.

Building Owner Benefits

While the new requirement may sound like a hassle, benchmarking enables owners to assess the relative efficiency of their buildings. This evaluation allows them to see where they might create further efficiencies and to share with tenants opportunities for controlling costs.

George Crawford leads Green Partners LLC, which identifies money-saving solutions of owners of commercial and residential properties in New York City. For help with your energy needs, please contact George by email at