Policy Brief: San Francisco

San Francisco building stock now subject to energy rating rules The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously passed the Existing Commercial Buildings Energy Performance Ordinance in Feb. 2011. The ordinance requires annual benchmarking, periodic energy audits and the public disclosure of benchmarking information for nonresidential buildings. It augments a nonresidential benchmarking and disclosure law enacted by the state legislature in 2007.

The ordinance is based on proposals by the Task Force on Existing Commercial Buildings, convened in 2009 by Mayor Gavin Newsome to develop and recommend actions to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions, enhance electricity reliability and improve the competitiveness of commercial buildings in San Francisco. The Task Force included local commercial real estate owners, building operators, green building consultants, utilities and banks, and was advised by city and state policymakers. 

The city's annual benchmarking requirement complements California's statewide initiative, AB 1103, requiring commercial buildings to disclose energy performance at point of transaction.

Key Provisions

San Francisco's ordinance stipulated the benchmarking of public and private (non-residential) buildings using Energy Star Portfolio Manager. Buildings must be over 10,000 SF to be subject to the requirement. The reported energy performance information will be disclosed via public website.

Non-residential buildings are to report benchmarking scores to the San Francisco Department of Environment (SFDOE) in the form of an Annual Energy Benchmark Summary. Compliance deadlines are staggered based on building size:

          • October 1, 2011 for buildings 50,000 SF and greater; 
          • April 1, 2012 for buildings 25,000 to 49,999 SF;
          • April 1, 2013 for those sized 10,000 to 24,999 SF. 

Annual reporting of benchmarking scores will occur on April 1st each year after the initial reporting deadline. The very first AEBS score will not be disclosed publicly, so as to give owners a chance to understand the process and improve performance.


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Existing Commercial Buildings Energy Performance Ordinance (2011)