Building Energy & Water Efficiency Strategy


More than 30 percent of building energy is wasted due to inefficiencies and outdated technologies.

Beginning on August 1 2018, any city-owned building above 10,000 gross square feet and any commercial or multifamily building above 50,000 gross square feet will be required to use the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager tool to obtain their energy benchmarking score.

In 2016, Orlando City Council unanimously passed the Building Energy and Water Efficiency Strategy (BEWES), a policy focused on tracking the energy and water output of our largest buildings. With this information, we can help local commercial property owners to:

  • drive efficiency in building operations.
  • save money for businesses and residents.
  • foster a cleaner and healthier environment.

Existing commercial, institutional and multi-family buildings larger than 50,000 square feet are required to track and report whole-building energy use. This information must be provided to the city annually, and all information is to be transparent to the real estate market. 

Whole-building energy use refers to electricity, natural gas and an other fuels, and includes common spaces and tenant-occupied spaces.

HVAC systems, porous window seals or poor insulation can cause financial waste, as well as accounting for the majority of Orlando’s contribution to air pollution.

BEWES 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 - annual
    Beginning May 2018, eligible buildings will track basic building information and whole-building energy use and share their benchmarking scores with the city using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, a free online tool offered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

  2. Information transparency - annual

    Beginning September 2019, the collected data will be included in an annual city report and online mapping tool analyzing the energy and water use of within the City of Orlando. View the transparency map by clicking here

  3. Energy audits or retro-commissioning - one time per five years
    Beginning December 2020, buildings that score under the national average of 50 are required to perform an energy audit 
    choose to perform a retro-commissioning of their base building systems one time every five years. 

    The free OUC utility audit is eligible for compliance.

BEWES compliance deadlines

  Notification of benchmarking requirement by the city Required benchmarking and reporting by the owner Transparency of benchmarking output information issued by the city Notification of energy audit or retro-commissioning issued by the city
Eligible city property >10,000 gross sq. ft. N/A Annually, starting on May 1, 2017

Annually, starting on
September 1, 2018

December 1, 2020
Eligible non-city property >50,000 gross sq. ft. Annually, starting on December 1, 2017 Annually, starting on May 1, 2018 Annually, starting on September 1, 2019

December 1, 2020

Please note: The first year of compliance for non-city property included an extended compliance window.

BEWES is a key strategy identified in the Green Works Orlando Community Action Plan.

The BEWES policy covers less than 4% of Orlando's buildings, which together account for roughly 70% of total energy used by all buildings, and focuses on creating information that will enable better decision-making around building energy use in Orlando.

The overall benefits and impact of BEWES

Based on an academic and market study performed by the GreenLink Group, Between 2015 and 2030, the BEWES policy will:

  • Save money and improve comfort
    This policy will save an estimated $208 million in energy costs over the next 15 years. Enhancements to building energy efficiency will also result in improved comfort and productivity at home and in the workplace.
  • Improve air quality and public health
    When local buildings are more energy efficient, they consume less power, resulting in fewer emissions from power plants. With this improved air quality, we can expect $57 million in reduced health care costs citywide.
  • Increase economic development and job creation
    Improvements to energy efficiency spurs economic investment through reduced operating costs, increased asset values and improved worker productivity. In addition to benefiting existing positions, this policy will drive the creation of more than 500 local high-wage jobs.
  • Reduce water supply constraints
    Electric power generation is the largest user of water, so reducing energy demand has a strong effect on preserving our limited water supply. As we face a significant impending water scarcity issue, building energy efficiency will conserve a critical 900 million gallons of fresh water.
  • Enhance our resilience
    Enrich our security and resilience to unexpected energy- or water-related emergencies and avoid an estimated 1.1 million metric tons of carbon pollution.
  • Lead the nation
    Improve competitiveness and promote Orlando’s position as a leading sustainable city to attract new businesses and investments and succeed in the global marketplace.


Benchmarking alone over a three year period can lead to an average annual savings of 2.4%, with a potential ENERGY STAR score of 6 points.


Why is transparency of energy use important?

A building’s energy efficiency score is similar to a miles per gallon (MPG) rating for cars or nutritional labels for food. This information can be an important feature for tenants and investors when deciding where to live and work.

The city believes that benchmarking is an important best management practice and public disclosure of building energy performance promotes transparency and accountability. Sharing benchmarking data on a large scale will open up a conversation among all stakeholders and allow everyone to work toward common energy goals by recognizing and rewarding efficiency.

This ordinance provides resources for building owners to improve their scores, but also giving them time to voluntarily participate before making the scores public. This helps building owners improve and address any concerns of their properties. 

View the transparency map by clicking here

BEWES & the City Energy Project

BEWES was developed through Orlando’s participation in the City Energy Project, a national initiative to create healthier and more prosperous American cities by improving the energy efficiency of large buildings. Together, with the other participating cities, this partnership serves to create multiple complementary strategies and energy efficiency solutions that are unique, flexible and serve to support the following goals: promote efficient building operations, promote transparency, encourage private investment and show city leadership.

Read more about Orlando’s CEP.

Reporting whole-building energy use

  1. Determine eligibility and receive building ID
    Any city-owned building above 10,000 gross square feet and any commercial or multifamily building above 50,000 gross square feet will be required to obtain their energy benchmarking score (1 – 100).

    View current building list with IDs (updated December 2021)

    (XLSX, 52KB)
  2. Identify a benchmarking leader and share your contact information with us
    Designate a building staff member or third-party partner to be your benchmarking leader. The lead may be the building owner or other designated third-party, such as a property manager, or a third-part energy consultant. 

    Would you like to be added as a contact for your building?
    Share your contact information

  3. Create an ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager account
    This free, online tool from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency uses building characteristics and energy and water consumption information to produce an energy consumption score. 

    To get started:
    - Create an account at ENERGY STAR
    - Read the Portfolio Manager Quick Start Guide
    - Review the required information for various property types

    View this presentation for step-by-step instructions for getting started(PDF, 6MB)

  4. Obtain monthly whole-building energy and water data for January - December 2018
    Electricity and water: to obtain data use, contact your utility service provider:
    - Orlando Utility Commission (OUC) - or 407.423.9018
    - Duke Energy - or 407.629.1010

    Natural gas: to obtain your data use, view your Tampa Electric Company (TECO) account, or create an online account, at For assistance, reach out to or 866.832.6249

    Buildings with multiple tenants and those who are employing a third-party partner to complete benchmarking may need to complete and submit the tenant authorization forms below. Your utility company will confirm whether or not this step is necessary for your specific building.
    OUC data authorization form(PDF, 244KB)
    Duke data authorization form(PDF, 244KB)
    TECO data authorization form(PDF, 182KB)

    *Note: It is strongly recommended that building water use is benchmarked, in addition to electricity and natural gas use.

  5. Finish and report data to the City of Orlando
    For more detailed reporting steps, follow the information in our Orlando BEWES Checklist(PDF, 305KB).

    Send benchmarking submission
  6. Report score to the City of Orlando, every year

  7. Where the data goes
    The collected data will be included in an annual city report and online mapping tool analyzing the energy and water use of within the city of Orlando, beginning in September 2019. The reports will include the following information:
    - Descriptive information - property address, use type and gross floor area
    - Energy output information - 
            - site energy use intensity (site EUI)
            - weather normalized source energy use intensity (source EUI)
            - total annual greenhouse gas emissions
            - the ENERGY STAR score, where available
    - Ordinance compliance or noncompliance status

Costs and improvements to properties

There is no out-of-pocket cost associated with ordinance compliance. The ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager is a free, online tool. Also, there is no requirement for buildings to make an investment or improve their performance over any period of time.

Energy audits

Beginning December 2020, buildings under a score of 50 will be required to perform an energy audit or a retro-commissioning service to better understand their building performance and cost saving opportunities, minimize our energy waste, and maximize cost savings. Free energy audits provided by OUC will be eligible for compliance, meaning that there are no out-of-pocket expense to comply with the BEWES policy. 


Those who have not complied by the deadline will be notified by the City and identified as non-compliant in an annual report and Orlando’s public benchmarking map starting in September 2019 and every year after.


Benchmarking is not required if:

You own an individual building less than 50,000 square feet

OR if any of the following apply to your building

(a) it meets any of the exemptions defined for a covered city property.

(b) the director determines that, due to special circumstances unique to the facility and not based on a condition caused by actions of the applicant, strict compliance with provisions of this ordinance would cause undue hardship.  

(c) the property qualifies as having a financial hardship. 

(d) the property is considered "industry," "manufacturing" or is part of a theme park. 

(e) substantially all of the such non-city property is used for telecommunications infrastructure. 

(f) more than three meters are associated with the property and

(i) the electric utility does not provide whole-building data aggregation services. 
(ii) the owner doesn't have access to master meters or any other means.

If you qualify to be exempt, please fill out the exemption request form and submit it to no later than the exemption request deadline on March 15, 2019.

Fill out the exemption request form(PDF, 151KB)

Other considerations

Financial hardship
Financial hardship refers to a property that is currently experiencing any of the following:

  • Had arrears of property taxes, water or waste water charges that resulted in the property's inclusion, within two years prior to the due date of a summary audit/retro-commissioning report, on the Orange County Property Appraiser's annual tax lien sale list.
  • Has a court appointed receiver is in control of the asset due to financial distress.
  • Is owned by a financial institution through default by the borrower.
  • Has been acquired by a deed in lieu of foreclosure.
  • Has a senior mortgage subject to a notice of default.

Single building with multiple owners
Covered buildings with multiple owners, including condominiums, must benchmark, verify, and report for the entire building. Only one report is required per property and in cases where a building has multiple owners, managers, and/or agents, all are encouraged to collaborate to ensure that one annual report is submitted. Options include creating a joint team to comply (example: a representative of each owner works together), or appointing a mutually-agreed upon staff member or third-party to facilitate compliance.

Multiple buildings with shared energy systems
If multiple buildings (at least one of which is covered by the ordinance) share one or more energy-consuming systems (ex: boilers, electricity meters, district chilled water, etc.), they may benchmark, verify, and report as a single property across the entire combined floor area of all affected buildings.  

Possible exception: If the separate buildings are sub metered, or if it’s possible to make reasonable calculations/assumptions to allocate energy use to each individual building, the building(s) may benchmark, verify, and report separately. Benchmarking each building separately may be the best option if a covered building shares energy-consuming systems with a building that would not otherwise be covered by the ordinance (i.e. a 75,000 sq. ft. building that is covered shares a boiler with an adjacent 25,000 sq. ft. building that is not covered). This may also be the best option if the buildings in question are owned and/or managed separately.  

If a building makes an assumption to allocate energy consumption for a shared system, it must be made in good faith and should be reviewed during the required data verification process.  

Note: If multiple buildings with the same owner (such as a campus or multi-building complex) have separate energy consuming systems, any covered buildings (that meet size and use type requirements) should benchmark separately. 

Tracking common areas' energy use separately from tenants' use
You can set up separate meters in Portfolio Manager to track any gas or electric account for which you have bills, in addition to aggregated usage data. However, you need to make sure you are not including any duplicated usage in the data you report to the city. If you requested whole-building usage data from the utilities, it will already include any common area account. 

Reporting attached parking or standalone parking garages
When parking is part of a building, it does not count towards gross floor area, since Portfolio Manager focuses on the energy use of the actual building interior. For example, if you have a building with 100,000 sq. ft. of office space and 20,000 sq. ft. of parking, you should enter a gross floor area of 100,000 square feet into Portfolio Manager. You may be prompted to enter information on parking area, but it will not count towards your gross floor area.  

Standalone parking garages: If you are reporting a standalone parking garage, EPA recommends that you select the “Other” building type when creating the building. Do not check off “My building’s energy use includes parking areas.” Instead, just enter the total area of the garage (i.e., including parking) as the area of the building. This will prevent any error messages from coming up as you continue. 


Is energy benchmarking a new idea? 
No. Cities all around the country have implemented similar projects. Multiple variables affect overall savings including the number and size of buildings and the carbon content of the city’s energy supply mix (e.g., coal, hydropower, etc.) By pursuing thoughtful, well-designed programs and policies that address the largest buildings, cities may be able to reduce their building-based energy consumption by 5%-10% or more, saving their residents and businesses hundreds of millions of dollars each year. For example, New York City's benchmarking and transparency policy alone resulted in cumulative energy savings of 5.7% or more than $267 million and carbon emissions reduction of 9% during the first four years of the policy, according to the Department of Energy. Similarly in San Francisco, the city's benchmarking policy resulted in a 7.9% cumulative reduction in energy use. 

Do other cities have similar policies? 
Yes, BEWES is based on national best practices. Currently 18 cities, 2 states and 1 county have adopted benchmarking policies, showing it to be feasible and accessible in other locations with greater building stocks than Orlando (e.g. In New York City, 15,000+ buildings benchmark and report annually). Six cities—Atlanta, Austin, Berkeley, Boston, New York and San Francisco—have adopted some variation of audit and retro-commissioning ordinances as well. 

If a building owner wants to improve his or her score, how much time do they have? 
The ordinance provides one year of voluntary participation to allow building owners to become familiar with benchmarking and energy efficiency before they are required to measure their energy use. From there, the policy provides an additional 18 months for building owners to correct low-performing buildings before energy performance data is made public, providing time to improve and address these concerns, if they so choose. They have up to 5 years after the initial benchmarking to use OUC’s free service or pursue other auditing options or retro-commissioning. 

How would an audit improve my score? 
The energy cost and greenhouse gas emissions savings identified by energy audits are typically in the range of 10 to 40 percent. Audits provide building owners with business information that they haven't had – by showing them, measure by measure, the business case for a set of optional upgrades that will bring better energy performance and increased equipment reliability. This means that, if the building owners and managers choose to pursue these improvements, they can save money not only through lower utility bills, but also by reducing maintenance and operating costs, and increased property values. 

How would retro-commissioning improve my score? 
Retro-commissioning can produce significant cost savings in existing buildings and a very fast payback period, averaging one year. Since many building systems require fine-tuning rather than the replacements identified in an audit, retro-commissioning can be a helpful alternative. Owners can gain improved system operation beyond preventive maintenance, extended life of the equipment, increased operations and maintenance staff capabilities and expertise and increased asset value, while experiencing fewer occupant complaints and reduced operational expenses. The cost of retro-commissioning can be reduced by completing it simultaneously with energy audits, which is the recommended method of the Green Works office and City of Orlando operations. 

If a building owner decides to make improvements, will there be a large upfront cost? 
Should building owners choose to pursue an audit beyond OUC’s free program or to utilize the retro-commissioning option, PACE financing, rebates and incentives from OUC, and energy efficiency programs incorporate financing mechanisms that would allow for improvements without creating a daunting financial burden. 

How would BEWES affect tenants and buyers? 
If a building owner decided to make improvements after learning that their building had a low energy efficiency score, this would be good for renters, buyers, and the environment. With transparent scores, buyers and tenants are able to make better-informed decisions about buildings they live and work in based on energy use and estimated utility cost. More energy efficient spaces have been shown to lower energy bills, improve tenant comfort, reduce asthma rates and increase overall productivity. All these factors make energy-efficient buildings more appealing for current and prospective tenants and future buyers.  View the transparency map by clicking here

What is ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager? 
The EPA’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager tool is simple to use, free to use, and utilizes building characteristics and energy and water consumption information to produce an energy consumption per square foot figure that is normalized for space use and climate. It’s also the nation’s preferred tool: Every single jurisdiction across the country that has adopted mandatory building benchmarking requirements has specified Portfolio Manager as the rating tool. 

Who is responsible for benchmarking my properties?  
The benchmarking leader may be the building owner or other designated third-party, such as a property manager, or a third-part energy consultant. This individual will need access to information on building characteristics and operations and will have to obtain, enter, and verify utility use data.  

Qualified Benchmarkers include Registered Architects (RAs), Professional Engineers licensed in the State of Florida, Certified Energy Managers (CEM), Certified Facilities Managers (CFMs), Building Energy Audits Professionals (BEAPs), Individuals with a Certificate of Proficiency of Benchmarking (CPB), Real Property Administrators (RPAs), Facilities Management Administrators (FMAs), System Maintenance Administrators (SMAs), System Maintenance Technicians (SMTs), High Performance Managers (HPMs), Certified Healthcare Facility Managers (CHFMs), Certified Plant Maintenance Managers (CPMMs), or designated staff with at least three years of professional experience performing benchmarking and energy audits on similar types of buildings, or additional credentials approved by the Director of Sustainability by emailing 

What if I don’t have access to the utility bills for all the spaces in my building?  
Orlando Utility Company and DUKE Energy both have account access pages which allow you to monitor and access past utility usage on their websites.  

What if I don’t use the data available from my utility?  
If whole building data is available from a utility, you must use either the utility data or use actual, whole building data from your own source (such as data obtained from all tenants or from a building management system). Use of defaults or extrapolation is not permitted. If you choose to use whole building data from your source, i.e. foregoing utility-provided data, the reason and an explanation of the difference must be noted in the “Property Notes” section. 

How do I determine the gross floor area for a building or for a property use within the building? 
Many building owners will have information on gross floor area from leasing, sale, or other transactional documents. Other buildings will have plans that can provide dimensions for the building and/or individual property uses. In conjunction, the gross floor area of common spaces and commercial condos can be estimated from building plans or measured; the City may also offer additional guidance, as needed, on measuring or estimating floor space. The calculation of gross floor area is a one-time step, necessary only in the first year of reporting. Any estimation of floor area must be noted in “Property Notes.”  

What if my building isn’t fully occupied? 
Occupancy is the percentage of your property’s Gross Floor Area (GFA) that is occupied and operational. For example, if you have a 10 story office building that on average has 9 of its 10 floors fully leased and occupied, the occupancy would be 90%. There is only one occupancy rate for each property as a whole. 

You first enter the occupancy when you create the property, and you can change the Occupancy on the Details tab. The value you enter for occupancy will not affect your ENERGY STAR Score or any other metrics. Your property's score is based on the specific use details (number of workers, number of computers, etc.). So, when you have changes to occupancy/vacancy, you need to update your Use Details to accurately reflect the activity at your property. 

What if my whole building is rented by a single tenant? 
If your building has a single tenant under a triple net lease who has assumed management of the entire building, the tenant has the obligations of the owner under the ordinance. 

Are there any energy uses that are not part of my building’s energy use? 
Cell phone towers, radio masts, and any external billboards used for leased advertising space are not part of building energy use, and may be excluded if sub metered. If you are not using whole building data, and are sub metering your parking areas, you may exclude parking area energy use since parking doesn’t count towards the gross floor area of the building. 

Are there any water uses that are not part of my building’s water use? 
Water benchmarking is highly-recommended, but not required for this policy. If you pursue water benchmarking, only fire pipe/emergency water usage should be excluded from your building’s water consumption.

What if I generate electricity through on-site generation like solar panels? 
You can enter this into Portfolio Manager when setting up your meters. Obtain data from your installer on the energy used, any energy exported out to the grid, and about any renewable energy certificates generated. If you report your renewable energy generation and use accurately, it will be reflected in your building’s greenhouse gas emissions. 

What if the building is under construction or newly built? 
A newly constructed building, if it is covered by this ordinance, is required to report its energy use for the first full calendar year after receiving a Certificate of Occupancy. 

What if I purchased the building in the past year?  
Buildings that have transferred ownership are not exempt from reporting requirements. The reporting regulations require the seller to transfer to the new owner any information that has been collected for completing the next energy and water report. 

Were Portfolio Manager scores recently updated?
On August 26, 2018, EPA updated performance metrics for U.S. buildings in ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager based on the most recent market data available. The 1–100 ENERGY STAR scores and other source energy metrics for previously benchmarked properties in Portfolio Manager were updated across all time periods to reflect the latest performance metrics. This update is part of EPA’s standard process to keep ENERGY STAR metrics as current as possible, and reflective of current market performance.


Guides and Information on ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager

The EPA has several easy-to-use guides for using Portfolio Manager's free, online tool.

Free in-person training classes

For more hands-on training in a classroom setting, attend one of our upcoming in-person benchmarking and ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager 101 training courses. Free lunch will be provided.

  • November 18, 2021; 9 a.m. - 12 p.m.
    For the time being, we are holding virtual benchmarking training sessions in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Email to RSVP

Each course will cover the basics of energy benchmarking for complying with the policy, tools and approaches to validating the benchmark, obtaining the verification and statement of energy performance reports from Portfolio Manager, and will also review of the ENERGY STAR certification process and eligibility requirements, including lighting, thermal comfort, and ventilation requirements.

Courses are provided in partnership with USGBC Florida.

View an online training webinar

Can't make it to one of our in-person trainings? Watch a webinar.

Access ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager Webinars by clicking here.

View upcoming ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager 101 and 102 training webinars

  • Select your preferred webinar under the "Events by Program" list
  • These webinars use WebEx, which will require software installation (free).

View recordings of past trainings webinars

  • In the right-hand corner, select "View Event Recordings"
  • Search the "topic" column for the most up-to-date trainings
  • Playback or download the recordings. 

BEWES Help Center

Call 407.246.2534 or email for answers to questions related to benchmarking.