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Building Energy Benchmarking Law

Benchmarking: General Information


About the Montgomery County Energy Benchmarking Law


Summary of the Benchmarking Law: In May 2014, the Montgomery County adopted Bill 2-14, Environmental Sustainability – Buildings – Benchmarking (PDF, 580KB), which requires the County and building owners to benchmark the energy use of their non-residential buildings 50,000 square feet and greater in the county in ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, and report it to the County for public disclosure.  

The County will lead by example and benchmark its buildings first. The first deadline for private buildings is December 2016. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is responsible for the implementation of this law.

About Benchmarking

  • What is Energy Benchmarking?  Energy Benchmarking means tracking a building's energy use and using a standard metric to compare the building's performance against past performance and to its peers nationwide.  

  • What are the Benefits?  Benchmarking improves our understanding of energy consumption patterns; quantifies energy performance to compare against past performance and other similar buildings; helps identify energy saving opportunities within a portfolio of buildings; and manages business bottom line through consistent data collection and tracking.  Read more about the Benefits of Benchmarking.

Word collage of benchmarking and energy terms


Sign-up for Email Updates

Subscribe to the Montgomery County Energy News (see example), an email newsletter with updates on benchmarking (trainings, events, and resources), property-assessed clean energy (PACE) financing, and other energy happenings and stories in the county. 

Subscribe to Benchmarking News


Bulletin Board: News and Upcoming Events


News:

  • Early Bird Benchmarking ProgramMontgomery County Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in its effort to support the new Benchmarking Law is offering an Early Bird Benchmarking program to recognize building owners who benchmark early.  Benchmark your building in Portfolio Manager, including the building profile and energy use data covering all of 2014, and report to the County by July 1, 2015.  Download the Early Bird Recognition program flyer.

    Receive rewards such as: 
    • County Recognition event Fall 2015: More details to come!
    • Greater access to DEP staff for questions as you benchmark
    • Recognition of your building on the DEP Benchmarking Website, the Montgomery County Energy News, and a County press release.
    • Priority for inclusion in the “BENCHMARKED” Blog Series where we profile your building and benchmarking effort.  
       
  • March Update 2015:

Upcoming Events: Check our calendar at My Green Montgomery and subscribe to the Montgomery County Energy News for the latest Benchmarking events, including trainings, office hours, and meetings.

  • Portfolio Manager Office Hours: Topic - Green Building Rating Systems - Tuesday, March 3 at 2:00pm (webinar): Register to view this webinar offered by ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager.  Additional webinars available at the Portfolio Manager Training website.  (DEP will not be hosting this in their office, due to short notice.)

  • Benchmarking Ambassador Training - April/May, Details TBD: This training is being planned for nonprofits, energy service companies, and building owners, to prepare them to support and help building owners in the benchmarking process.  More information coming soon
     


Case Studies

Recent Case Studies: Read our benchmarking blog posts to get the scoop on local buildings that are benchmarking and highlights from our events.

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Official Guidance 


Almost all of the information on this website will be compiled into a downloadable document developed to guide you through the details of the benchmarking process.  Updates to this document will be communicated through the Montgomery County Energy News and will be posted here.

  • Benchmarking Official Guidance Document: How to Benchmark & Comply - Coming soon
     

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Portfolio Manager Questions: If your question is about Portfolio Manager, visit Portfolio Manager Support.  From there, you can search through their Knowledge Base, view some Training, or ask a question.
     
  • Benchmarking Law Questions: f your question is about the law, how to organize your buildings, compliance, verification, or reporting, you can view the DEP Benchmarking Frequently Asked Questions - Coming soon.

Start Here: Required Buildings and Deadlines


Step 1: Identify Buildings to Benchmark


Building Groups and Deadlines

There are three groups required to benchmark under the Benchmarking Law in Montgomery County.  

Building Groups and Deadlines

Group

Building(s)* Size

Data Year

First Deadline

County

50k sq. ft. +

2014

June 1, 2015

Group 1

250k sq. ft. +

2015

Dec. 1, 2016

Group 2

50k sq. ft. up to 250k sq. ft.

2016

Dec. 1, 2017

*The Montgomery County law defines a covered building as a nonresidential building, or any group of nonresidential buildings that have the same property identification number, that meet the given thresholds. 

Special Cases:

  • Multiple Buildings that Share a PIN/Tax ID: If you have a complex of buildings that share a property identification number (your Parcel ID or Tax ID), and their square footage adds up to the thresholds listed above, they are considered covered under this law. (e.g. office campus with two buildings that are 30,000 square feet each and share a Tax ID)

  • A Building on Multiple Parcels: If you have a building that meets the thresholds, regardless of how many parcels or tax IDs or owners, the building is also considered covered under this law. (e.g. mall)


Covered Building List

DEP is working to provide a list of buildings to help building owners identify buildings that are covered by the law. 
 

Exemptions and Waivers

Downtown Silver Spring by Matthew Straubmuller via Flickr

Buildings exempt from the law include any County building, Group 1 covered building or Group 2 covered building with more than 10% occupancy which is used for:

  • Public assembly in a building without walls
  • Warehousing
  • Self storage, or
  • A use classified as manufacturing and industrial or transportation communication, and utilities.

Waivers can be applied for in the cases where the building:

  • Is in financial distress, defined as the building is subject of a tax lien sale or public auction due to property tax arrearages; is controlled by a court appointed receiver; or was recently acquired by a deed in lieu of foreclosure;
  • Had average physical occupancy of less than 50% throughout the calendar year for which benchmarking is required; or
  • Is new construction and received its certificate of use and occupancy during the calendar year for which benchmarking is required.

 

Next: Benchmarking in Portfolio Manager


Step 2: Collect Building and Energy Data


Gather your Building Information

What building information do you need to collect? Use the Montgomery County version of the Portfolio Manager Data Collection Worksheet to pre-assemble your information.

Have tenants? Building owners must request any space data needed in writing to the tenant no later than March 31 of each compliance year.  Tenants must respond within 30 days of a request, per the Benchmarking Law.

  • Use the Montgomery County Tenant Information Request Letter Template (.doc, 16KB) to explain your request and list information you’re seeking.  Using this template is not required and is only meant as a guide.

ENERGY STAR row of buildings

Gather your Energy Data

You will need whole-building energy data for all your meters in order to benchmark properly in Portfolio Manager.  Two ways to get your energy data:

Gather your utility bills

  • If you are the account holder of all your meters and all your energy data is available to you, we recommend collecting your bills for manual input.  (Portfolio Manager provides a bulk-upload option to easily upload multiple meters at the same time.)

  • If you have tenants, you can request that they share/send their energy data to you for the purposes of benchmarking.  Or, read below for information on requesting data from your utility/utilities.

Request data from your utility/utilities

If you have multiple meters in your building, it is possible to request whole-building/aggregate data from your utilities for benchmarking purposes.  This service is most beneficial to building owners with several buildings and more than 5 meters in each building, particularly where tenants pay the utility bills.

  • If you have 5 or more meters, you can usually request whole-building/aggregate data without tenant authorization.

  • If you have 4 or fewer meters, you can request data from your utility but must obtain authorization from tenants to obtain their energy data.  Building owners will need to receive authorization from each tenant.  DEP is working on a common authorization form and/or will provide links to access forms for each utility.

When to Request Utility Data

Utilities will take up to 10 business days to provide your data; the wait can be longer as we approach compliance deadlines.  Building owners are encouraged to request their data early.

Utility-Specific Information


Step 3: Benchmark your Building in Portfolio Manager

 

About the Software: Portfolio Manager

In order to streamline the process of benchmarking, the benchmarking law has identified U.S. EPA’s free, industry-standard ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager Tool as the standard software for benchmarking and reporting. Read about it at energystar.gov/benchmark.

Method 1: Do-It-Yourself Benchmarking

Portfolio Manager is built to be user-friendly and accessible for in-house staff to benchmark their buildings.  In many cases, ENERGY STAR has found accounting, operations, and building management staff are entering data into Portfolio Manager.  If you choose to Do-It-Yourself, below are some helpful tools to guide you.

Portfolio Manager Resources

Montgomery County DEP is working very closely with ENERGY STAR and defers to their technical support for guidance in benchmarking in the software.  Benchmarking per the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager guidelines are a best practice for compliance with the Benchmarking Law.

 

Method 2: Hire an Energy Service Company to Benchmark

Benchmarking is a common and regular practice for any energy efficiency or conservation project.  Montgomery County and the region are home to many energy service companies that offer an array of services to help you manage your energy use.  Many of these same companies are experienced in benchmarking and can help you benchmark your building.

What to Look For in an Energy Service CompanyDEP cannot endorse a particular company or business, but we recommend asking a few companies about their experience for benchmarking, their ability to help deliver energy savings, and other services they offer.  You can ask for quotes from multiple companies, and they may be able to help you benchmark, and access to improve your building's energy performance. 

Where to Look for an Energy Service Company: DEP does not endorse a particular company or business, but we can direct you to existing lists of energy service companies that do similar work.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: Montgomery County Building ID (MBID)

To be sure your building is counted as compliant by DEP, you will need to provide an additional ID number special to Montgomery County.  Under the Details tab, you will find a number of fields for ID numbers.  Under Standard ID, you’ll select Montgomery County (MD) Building ID and enter your building’s 8-digit Parcel Identification Number/Tax ID as your MBID.

Special cases:

  • If you have multiple buildings on your parcel, you’ll create your MBID by using the 8-digit Parcel Identification Number/Tax ID number and adding an underscore and a lower case letter beginning with “a”.  e.g. 01234567­_a
     
  • If you have a building on multiple parcels, you can list each 8-digit Parcel Identification Number/Tax ID number as your MBIDs, separating each with a comma.
     

Montgomery County DEP Support

Montgomery County DEP offers support for building owners benchmarking in Portfolio Manager through the following resources:

  • DEP Office Hours: These are monthly sessions held at DEP with Senior Energy Planner, Michelle Vigen, that feature a live Portfolio Manager webinar and opportunity for Q&A and discussion with the EPA webinar hosts, DEP, and other attendees.  Subscribe to the Energy News for these event announcements.
     
  • Benchmarking Law and Requirements Questions: If you have a question about compliance, details of the law, or the processes and procedures to comply (e.g. the MBID), you can check out our Frequently Asked Questions or email your question to DEP at energy@montgomerycountymd.gov.
     
  • Portfolio Manager Support: In general, DEP uses the same Portfolio Manager resources as the public and can refer you to Portfolio Manager’s technical support.  DEP may offer to try to help you with any questions in Portfolio Manager – in these cases, we may ask you to share your property (read-only) with us so we can look at it from our computers to try to solve the problem.  You can revoke this sharing at any time.  To request/schedule a DEP session, email DEP at energy@montgomerycountymd.gov.

Word collage of benchmarking terms

Last Steps: Verification and Reporting


Step 4: Verifying Your Data

The Benchmarking Law 2-14 (PDF, 580KB) requires that building owners complete a verification process every 3 years, starting with the first year of reporting.

The Benchmarking Work Group's Legislative and Implementation Subcommittee is reviewing this section of the legislation.  Further guidance on verification, who can conduct it, the scope of verification, and documentation is being developed.  
 


Step 5: Reporting to the County

Reporting Deadlines

There are three groups benchmarking in Montgomery County.

Building Groups and Deadlines

Group

Building(s)* Size

Data Year

First Deadline

County

50k sq. ft. +

2014

June 1, 2015

Group 1

250k sq. ft. +

2015

Dec. 1, 2016

Group 2

50k sq. ft. up to 250k sq. ft.

2016

Dec. 1, 2017

How to Report

Reporting to the County is easy once you’ve completed your benchmarking in Portfolio Manager.  DEP will provide a link closer to the first compliance deadline that will facilitate electronic reporting to the County through Portfolio Manager. Check back here or sign up for the Montgomery County Energy News in the months preceding deadlines for the reporting link.
 

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: Montgomery County Building ID (MBID)

To be sure your building is counted as compliant by DEP, you will need to provide an additional ID number special to Montgomery County.  Under the Details tab, you will find a number of fields for ID numbers.  Under Standard ID, you’ll select Montgomery County (MD) Building ID and enter your building’s 8-digit Parcel Identification Number/Tax ID as your MBID.

Special cases:

  • If you have multiple buildings on your parcel, you’ll create your MBID by using the 8-digit Parcel Identification Number/Tax ID number and adding an underscore and a lower case letter beginning with “a”.  e.g. 01234567­_a
  • If you have a building on multiple parcels, you can list each 8-digit Parcel Identification Number/Tax ID number as your MBIDs, separating each with a comma.
     

What’s reported?

DEP will be requesting information to fulfill the Benchmarking Law’s reporting requirements.  Metrics are still being finalized as we learn what Portfolio Manager can provide, but likely metrics include: Annual energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, energy use intensity (energy used per square foot), and information to help determine building compliance.
 

What’s disclosed?

The Benchmarking Law requires us to make reported benchmarking information readily available to the public. The first year's data of each reporting group will not be disclosed.  Disclosure will begin the 2nd year of each building group's reporting.  Example: Disclosure will begin with data reported in 2017, the second year of reporting, for Group 1.  Further details will be release closer to the first disclosure.

Word collage of benchmarking terms

Beyond Benchmarking: Saving Energy & Recognition


Improve Your Building Energy Performance

Once your building has been benchmarked, you may find that there is room to improve energy efficiency (and maybe raise your score!).  Simple adjustments to equipment start time, operations parameters, occupant behavior, and controls can reap significant energy and cost savings.
 

Utility Incentives

Commit to making energy improvements, and use your benchmarking data to discuss with your utility what incentives are available for saving energy.  Learn more at:

PACE Financing - Coming soon

Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Financing allows building owners to take out long-term loans for energy and water conserving projects and renewable energy projects and pay them back through the County’s tax assessment system.  More information coming soon.

 

Get Recognized

ENERGY STAR Certification

If your building achieved an ENERGY STAR score of 75 or higher, you qualify for ENERGY STAR Certification.  Why earn ENERGY STAR Certification?  Join the other buildings in Montgomery County and Maryland that are already certified, and learn about Ten reasons to pursue ENERGY STAR Certification.  Learn how to get certified and be recognized with the biggest little logo out there!

 

2015 Battle of the Buildings

Compete with other buildings like your own to see who can save the most energy over 2015.  Meet your goals and receive national attention from EPA’s National Building Competition program!  Learn more and register!
 

U.S. Department of Energy Better Buildings Challenge

The Better Buildings Challenge supports commercial and industrial building owners by providing technical assistance and proven solutions to energy efficiency. View the Program Overview (PDF, 147 KB) for more information.
 

GSA Leasing

Interested in leasing to the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA)?  Be sure your building is up to their energy standards – able to achieve a score of 75 or higher (within 18 months of GSA occupancy).
 

DEP Recognition and your Benchmarking Story

Have a good story to tell?  Maybe you improved your score by 15 or 20 points?  Perhaps you did a savings project and your energy performance improved?  Maybe you finally got to 75?  Tell us how you did it and get recognized!  Email DEP to complete a “Benchmarked” Profile and be featured in our Montgomery County Energy News!

 

 

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General Information | Required Buildings & Deadlines | Portfolio Manager | Verification & Reporting | Save Energy & Get Recognized

Contact
Michelle Vigen | 
Department of Environmental ProtectionEnergy@montgomerycountymd.gov | 240-777-7749