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Benchmarking and Building Performance Standards: A Resource Compendium

As energy efficiency in the built environment continues to grow as an industry standard, action plans to mitigate climate change that contain elements such as building performance standard (BPS) policies and benchmarking have become more popular with cities and energy management stakeholders. Benchmarking is a way to measure the current energy performance of a building against past data or buildings of a similar size and occupancy. Building performance standards take benchmarking a step further where a policy is enacted by a jurisdiction to meet climate goals, achieve energy savings, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

These resources will help navigate benchmarking and building performance standards (BPS).


Getting Started

Exploring Building Performance Standards
This resource defines a BPS building performance standard and why these policies are enacted. It also shares general resources, as well as those specifically for local governments and building owners, and tenants.

Building Performance Standards
This resource goes in-depth on BPS and how a city benefits from these policies, and was developed by the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT).

The Business Case for Operating an Energy-Efficient Portfolio of Buildings
This business case from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) details savings, asset value, and investor demand to prove the value of an energy-efficient portfolio.

Building Energy Tools
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) developed a comprehensive suite of tools for accessing, managing, analyzing, and sharing building energy data. This website describes how they can be used to support BPS policies, one of many possible use cases

Benchmarking and Building Performance Standards Policy Toolkit
This toolkit aims to inform and support state and local government decision-makers who are exploring adopting policies focused on reducing energy use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from existing commercial and multifamily buildings in their communities.

Evaluation of US Building Energy Benchmarking and Transparency Programs
This report provides a summary of U.S. Benchmarking & Transparency (B&T) policy design and implementation characteristics, reports results and impacts for jurisdictions with B&T policies, and discusses opportunities for increasing the efficacy of B&T policies, as well as suggested areas for further research. Put together by DOE's Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) and Lawrence Berkely National Laboratory (LBNL).

Beyond Benchmarking: Unlocking Value for Utilities
This document helps utilities identify new, untapped datasets that are emerging related to the energy performance of buildings, and how this information can be applied to expand market intelligence and create business value. This is a deliverable from DOE's Better Building Energy Data Accelerator (BBEDA), a two-year partnership with cities and utilities to improve energy efficiency by making energy data more accessible to building owners.

Green Lease Leaders: Performance-Based Leasing
Traditional lease structures create a number of hurdles to meeting new local building performance standards, such as misaligned incentives for landlords and tenants, to improve building operations to meet new performance requirements. The best solution is to replace inefficient traditional leases with high-performing, performance-based ones. Put together by the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT), this performance-based leasing toolkit helps both landlords and commercial tenants get started.

Helping Clients Obtain Utility Data to Facilitate Benchmarking 
This resource provides guidance on navigating utility data privacy policies and requesting whole-building energy consumption data, essential for accurate benchmarking in ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, especially for multi-tenant and multi-family properties


Benchmarking to Save Energy
This guide from EPA details the key steps and benefits of benchmarking, including technical guidance and software tools to achieve energy management goals.

Biden-⁠Harris Administration Launches Coalition of States and Local Governments to Strengthen Building Performance Standards
This fact sheet explains how the Biden Administration is teaming up with states, cities, labor, and industry to launch the Building Performance Standards Coalition, a first-of-its-kind partnership between 33 state and local governments dedicated to delivering cleaner, healthier, and more affordable buildings. 

Green Building Standards   
This resource from Harvard details the Green Building Standards that Harvard requires of all capital projects over $100,000, with requirements and suggested tools for higher education construction projects.

Benefits of Benchmarking Building Performance
From IMT, this report highlights the positive effects that can be achieved through benchmarking and transparency policies and how the real estate market is empowered to consider and recognize the value of energy efficiency.

Benchmarking and Transparency Policy and Program Impact Evaluation Handbook
This handbook provides both a strategic planning framework and standard methodologies to determine the energy and non-energy benefits of benchmarking and transparency policies and programs.

Denver's Energy Benchmarking Ordinance
This ordinance requires building owners and managers to annually assess and report their building’s energy performance while providing them with targeted resources to improve energy efficiency.

Parkway's Sustainability Program Incentivizes Efficiency Improvements
After launching a Sustainable Properties Awards Program with robust tools and incentives, 100% of Parkway's portfolio is benchmarking energy consumption and allowing the trust to monitor progress toward goals.

Prologis’s Solution for Accessing Tenant Utility Data in Triple-Net Leased Buildings
In order to benchmark energy data and identify efficiency opportunities, Prologis developed a multi-pronged approach to gain access to tenant utility data through the modification of lease language and coordination with utilities.

Multifamily Utility Benchmarking Toolkit
From HUD, this report highlights benchmarking step-by-step, policies, and programs. 


Building Energy Use Benchmarking
The topics in this DOE resource reference different steps to energy management. These include developing a benchmarking plan, tools, engagement and communications, and data collection.

Procedure for Measuring and Reporting Commercial Building Energy Performance
This document from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) establishes a standard method for monitoring and reporting on the energy performance of commercial buildings.

Benchmarking and Disclosing Resilience Performance
This fact sheet provides an overview of common trends and barriers related to disclosure of climate and resilience performance. It reviews how each of the major reporting frameworks treats resilience, compares these frameworks against one another, and provides insight on where to begin.

Compliance in Your Jurisdiction

Comparison of US Building Performance Standards
This matrix compares the requirements of building performance standards in cities and states around the U.S. It is part of a suite of matrices that provide quick, high-level comparisons of policy types across jurisdictions. 

Commercial and Multifamily Building Energy Benchmarking, Transparency and Labeling in US Cities
This policy brief from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) features policy goals and benefits, steps for design and adoption, and case studies of local initiatives for commercial and multifamily buildings.

Building Performance Standard Implementation Guide
In this guide, IMT recommends strategies, processes, and rules that local and state jurisdictions can use to implement equitable policies. 

State and Local Government Leaders

Building Performance Standard Module: Resiliency 
This policy brief outlines how interested jurisdictions can integrate resilience into a BPS and start to build a more holistic, equitable policy.

State and Local Building Policies and Programs for Energy Efficiency and Demand Flexibility
This report examines ways to include demand flexibility in state and local building policies and programs, such as benchmarking and transparency, ratings and labeling, and building performance standards.

Benchmarking and Transparency: Resources for State and Local Leaders
This DOE and IMT resource guide provides state and local leaders with streamlined access to key existing resources for developing and implementing high-impact building energy benchmarking and transparency programs in their jurisdictions.

Working with a Community Accountability Board to Co-Design Equitable Building Performance Standards
Jurisdictions and Community-Based Organizations (CBO) can use this IMT quick-reference guide to help them establish an empowered and well-resourced Community Accountability Board (CAB) to review a BPS’ impact on frontline and fenceline communities. These are communities that experience the most immediate and worst impacts of climate change and are most often communities of color, Indigenous, and low-income communities.

Short Building Performance Standard Model Law
IMT created this Short Model BPS Law to establish broad goals and an equitable process by which stakeholders and one or more agencies will work together after passage to craft BPS rules to achieve shared goals. The streamlined law, and its greater reliance on rulemaking, make it particularly well-suited for states passing a BPS.

Roadmap for Creating Equitable and Effective Building Performance Standards
This IMT resource outlines how to create successful building performance standards consisting of five main activities centering on inclusive outreach and engagement throughout the process. The roadmap graphic demonstrates how continuously engaging with community stakeholders can lead to transformative solutions.