Energy Benchmarking
Supporting Information Facts
City Services

2014 Building Energy Benchmarking Report

(click to view)

2014 Chicago Energy Benchmarking Report

2014 Building Energy Benchmarking At-A-Glance 

(click to enlarge)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


Chicago Energy Benchmarking

Thank you to all building owners and representatives who benchmarked, verified, and reported in 2014!


2014 Chicago Energy Benchmarking

The 2014 Chicago Building Energy Benchmarking Report is now available:


Please see details below on 2015 Chicago Energy Benchmarking:  

  • Building notification letters will be mailed by March, 2015
  • Chicago Energy Benchmarking Online Reporting Link will be posted by March, 2015


2015 Chicago Energy Benchmarking Quick Links

Questions? Call (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.  Thank you to all who provided input through the City's public comment process.

The next 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.  

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.


Getting Started: Benchmarking Instructions & Guidance Materials (updated for 2015!)

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


Ordinance Requirements, Key Dates & Compliance Deadlines

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.

First-time reporting deadlines under the ordinance phase-in over 3 years.  After the first deadline, covered buildings must benchmark and report annually by June 1st, with data verification every third year:

  •  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

The City will report annually 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 benchmarking information.


Covered Buildings, Building Information, Exemptions & Exceptions

Covered Buildings:

The ordinance applies to existing municipal, commercial, and residential buildings larger than 50,000 square feet, with initial compliance deadlines based on size and sector.

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 / Sector: Building occupancy is determined by how space is used within a building.  The benchmarking ordinance includes 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 benchmark, verify data, and report on energy use.  Additional information on building occupancy classifications is available in the Municipal Code of Chicago Chapter 13-56.

Updating Building Information:

Owners of covered buildings who wish to update or clarify building information should use the Chicago Energy Benchmarking Information Update & Exemption Request Form. (Note: Please download and save the Information Update & Exemption Request Form to your computer before entering your building information.  In some web browsers, typing directly into the form without saving first may result in lost information.)

Requesting Exemptions & Exceptions:

The ordinance includes exemptions for covered buildings experiencing financial distress, buildings with average physical occupancy below 50%, and new construction.  Limited exceptions to the data verification requirement and public disclosure are available based on financial hardship and specific occupancy uses.

Details on these exemptions and exceptions are available in the Chicago Energy Benchmarking Guide.

Owners of qualifying covered buildings seeking exemptions and exceptions should use the Chicago Energy Benchmarking Information Update & Exemption Request Form. (Note: Please download and save the Information Update & Exemption Request Form to your computer before entering your building information.  In some web browsers, typing directly into the form without saving first may result in lost information.)


Free Training & Building Support

Chicago Energy Benchmarking Help Center: 

The Chicago Energy Benchmarking Help Center provides phone and email support for all questions related to the ordinance:

Chicago Energy Benchmarking Training:

The U.S. Green Building Council - Illinois Chapter (USGBC-Illinois), ASHRAE - Illinois Chapter, and the American Institute of Architects - Chicago (AIA), and the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (MEEA) offer free, in-person and web-based training to buildings covered by the Chicago Energy Benchmarking Ordinance.  These courses provide background and technical knowledge to help covered buildings comply and access other energy efficiency resources.

2015 Training - Early Bird Opportunities:

  • Thursday, 2/26 12:00-1:30pm: click here to register
  • Wednesday, 3/11 8:00-9:30am: click here to register

Please check back in early 2015 to sign up for additional training sessions.



The US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) offers free online resources to help buildings get started with energy benchmarking, including:

Pro-Bono Data Verification:  

To assist qualifying covered buildings in complying with the Chicago Energy Benchmarking Ordinance, the City and benchmarking 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 service provides direct assistance to covered buildings with limited staff and financial resources to conduct professional data verification.

Click here for additional information about the Pro-Bono Chicago Energy Data Verification Program.  Please check back in early 2015 for Pro-Bono Data Verification application materials.


Fulfilling the Data Verification Requirement / Recognized Data Verifiers

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. 

Proof of data verification shall take the form of 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.  Data verification must be documented in each building's Portfolio Manager profile, in the "Property Notes" section, as described in the Compliance Checklist and Chicago Energy Benchmarking Guide.  

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. (For example, if a building was ENERGY STAR Certified for the twelve months ending August 15, 2014, this certification includes more than 6 months of the 2014 calendar year, thus fulfilling the Chicago Energy Benchmarking data verification requirement.)

Qualifying buildings may be eligible for pro-bono data verification through the ASHRAE Illinois Chapter, the U.S. Green Building Council Illinois Chapter, the American Institute of Architects Chicago, and local volunteers.  Please refer to Free Training & Building Support on this page for additional information.


Obtaining Whole-Building Energy Data

The energy benchmarking ordinance requires owners of covered buildings to report whole-building data on annual energy use.  There are three primary sources for these data, including: request whole-building energy use directly from utilities, compile energy data directly from utility bills (when the building owner / manager is the accountholder), or request data from tenants (only in rare cases when other sources are not available).

Owners and managers of covered buildings are strongly encouraged to take advantage of data aggregation services provided to covered buildings at no additional charge.

ComEdElectricity - 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 GasNatural Gas - Peoples Gas: Peoples Gas offers aggregated natural gas use data for buildings covered by the energy benchmarking ordinance.  A link to instructions and information request forms are available at (January-December 2014 natural gas data will be available in early 2015)


Energy Efficiency Funding & Other Resources

Incentives and Technical Support:  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.