BEWES Frequently Asked Questions

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.